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WISH-TV, WNDY win court ruling in racial discrimination suit against DISH Network

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Circle City Broadcasting’s racial discrimination lawsuit against DISH Network will proceed, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, rejected DISH Network’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Circle City Broadcasting, the parent company of WISH-TV and MyINDY-TV 23 in Indianapolis, sued DISH in 2020, claiming the satellite provider refused to offer fair-market compensation for airing the stations’ news and programming.

DuJuan McCoy, the owner, president and chief executive officer of Circle City Broadcasting and one of the nation’s leading Black television station owners, said in court filings that DISH’s decision was racially motivated.

The suit accuses DISH of “maintaining the industry’s decades long policies and practices of discriminating against minority-owned broadcasters by paying the non-minority broadcasters significant fees to rebroadcast their stations and channels while offering practically no fees to the historically disadvantaged broadcaster and programmer for the exact same or superior programming.”

McCoy says the stations saw immediate improvement under his ownership, including expanded news programming, enhanced live local high school and professional sporting events, and adding specialty reporters such as Indiana’s only dedicated Multicultural Reporter.

McCoy alleges DISH did provide compensation to the stations’ former owner, Nexstar Broadcasting, which the suit labels a “large, historically white-owned” publicly traded corporation.

In her ruling, the judge found that Circle City has submitted “enough in the way of facts to at minimal, present a circumstantial case for intentional discrimination.”

Pratt also wrote that “the Court is persuaded by Circle City’s argument that an extensive comparison of these channels for purposes of determining disparate treatment due to race would require a factual inquiry.”

McCoy and Circle City Broadcasting are joined in the lawsuit by the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.

McCoy and Circle City Broadcasting have a similar suit pending in the same court against AT&T and DIRECTV.