MANHATTAN (CN) – Comcast used the Black Education Network’s name to attract sponsors for a new television show focused on Washington politics and stole the show’s content from a program the network created in 1996, according to a federal complaint.
The Black Education Network claims it was trying to find a new home for a program it developed called “Inside the Congressional Black Caucus” or “This American Nation.” BEN says it was in talks to bring the program to Comcast’s TV One, a Delaware-based division that specializes in programming targeting black viewers.
“Inside the Congressional Black Caucus,” which BEN created in 1996, aired on the Black Family Channel from 2005 to 2007, according to the complaint.
After BEN shared details about its show’s content with TV One and Comcast, the lawsuit claims, the cable providers stopped providing updates and eventually aired a show called “Washington Watch with Roland Martin.”
“Defendants’ broadcast of ‘Washington Watch with Roland Martin’ is derived from BEN’s ‘ICBC/TAN,’ however BEN has not been credited and/or compensated for its contribution,” the lawsuit states.
“Defendants intentionally and knowingly converted the show ‘ICBC/TAN’ to its own use and benefit without BEN’s permission or lawful cause.”
BEN claims Comcast, TV One and Radio One have violated federal trademark law by taking credit for the content of “Washington Watch.”
TV One’s former senior vice president, Bernard Bell, had provided BEN with a rough draft of a letter of commitment, and BEN claims it lost opportunities to work with other networks because of Comcast’s empty promises.
“BEN negotiated and obtained an agreement to broadcast on Ion Media Network but pursuant to defendants’ reassurances of broadcasting on their platform, BEN withdrew,” the network claims.
BEN seeks damages and an injunction to bar Comcast, TV One and Radio One from airing their “Washington Watch” program, alleging breach of contract, fraud and conversion.
It is represented by Corey Boddie with Boddie & Associates.