The Word Network, the Leading African-American Religious Channel, Sues Sirius Satellite Radio for Racial Discrimination

Sep 26, 2005, 01:00 ET from The Word Network

    NEW YORK, Sept. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Word Network, a mainstream media
 broadcaster for African-American ministries and gospel music to millions in
 the United States and across the world, sued Sirius Satellite Radio today,
 alleging racial discrimination and breach of contract over its decision to
 cancel their contract.
     Sirius dropped The Word Network from its programming in mid-September
 despite backing from members of Congress, African-American religious leaders,
 and tens of thousands of listeners and other interested Americans.
     "We did not want to file suit, but Sirius gave us no choice," said Lewis
 Gibbs, The Word Network's vice president of operations. "We were dropped
 without warning and when pressed as to why, Sirius said ratings were poor.
 However, Sirius refused to say what the ratings were or if others with
 supposedly similar ratings were also unceremoniously dropped.  We feel that
 was a pretext for racial and religious discrimination, and neither we nor our
 supporters will stand for it."
     Among those who have spoken against Sirius' decision to drop The Word
 Network are:
     *  Members of Congress who sent letters of disapproval to Sirius,
        including Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD.), the immediate past chair of the
        Congressional Black Caucus; Reps. Corrine Brown (D-FL.), Albert R. Wynn
        (D-MD.), and Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA.), and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-
     *  Leaders of the African-American religious and gospel communities,
        including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Bobby Jones and Bishop Paul
     *  15,000 Americans who wrote letters of protest that were hand-delivered
        to Jay Clark, Sirius' vice president of programming;
     *  Nearly 3,000 Americans who sent e-mails to Sirius; and
     *  Countless other Americans who made telephone calls to Sirius.
     The suit alleges that The Word Network was the only programming on Sirius
 that combined religious programming and ministry to an African-American
 audience, and Sirius does not now carry, and has no plans to carry,
 programming similar to it on its satellite.  Sirius was therefore, the suit
 alleges, "motivated by racial and religious discrimination when it refused to
 renew its contract."
     The Word Network provides religious and gospel programming to 37 million
 American households in the United States. The Word Network is also available
 in 140 countries via satellite TV, and is carried on The Armed Forces Network,
 which makes The Word Network's programming available to approximately one
 million men and women in the armed forces stationed in 165 countries
 throughout the world.  The thousands of people who protested the decision made
 it clear to Sirius that they had a duty to find room on their dial for
 wholesome broadcasting that serves the public interest.
     If you'd like to receive a copy of the lawsuit or to speak to Lewis Gibbs,
 please contact Lindsay Keller at 202.261.2871 or
     To voice your support to The Word Network, go to or call Sirius' customer care center at
 1-888-539-SIRIUS (7474).
     For more information on The Word Network, visit

SOURCE The Word Network