Tallahassee-Based Black-Centered TV News Channel Signs Deal With Comcast
UPDATE: The Black Television News Channel is a project fronted by former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts, aimed at creating a black-focused news channel which would look like a hybrid of Fox News Channel and CNN, according to its senior vice president Steven Pruitt.
The company is based in Tallahassee right now because it is working with Bob Brilliante, the former head of Florida's News Channel -- an effort to create a statewide TV news channel which never quite lived up to its ambitions. The project expects to move its headquarters to Washington D.C. soon and launch in time for Black History Month 2009, according to Pruitt.
Pruitt says the company is securing carriage deals like the one it announced today before hiring any personnel. But this will be the third time an independent company has tried to form a black-centered TV news network; Quincy Jones was the most visible investor in New Urban Entertainment, which fell apart when it couldn't nail carriage agrements and Stuart, Fla. lawyer Willie Gary tried spinning off a news network from his Major Broadcasting Cable Network, which also failed. Neither of the two existing black-focused cable networks, Black Entertainment Television or TV One, offers regular newscast programming
Pruitt also said the company expects to spend more than $30-million on the venture. As well as some ethnic media is doing these days, starting a TV news channel from scratch is a tall order; it will be interesting to see how this one unfolds, if it ever does. Bear in mind, all I know about this company is what Pruitt and his press release have told me, so far. (UPDATE END)
I'll be doing some reporting later today to check up on this, but here's a press release I got today which looks interesting. Bear in mind that press releases most times don't tell the whole story.
Here it is:
Washington, DC — April 14, 2008 -- Black Television News Channel (BTNC), the nation’s only African-American news network, scheduled to launch in 2009, today announced a multi-year carriage agreement with Comcast (CMCSA, CMCSK), the country’s leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services. Under the agreement, BTNC expects that it will be added to Comcast systems in the following key African American markets: Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Baltimore.
BTNC will be a 24/7 cable news network that provides original news programming with a distinctly African-American perspective, and therefore helps fill a major gap in today’s media. BTNC is the endeavor of J.C. Watts, Jr., former U.S. congressman from Oklahoma and celebrated athlete, and broadcast and cable news veterans.
“Our unique and vast content partnerships with African American newsmakers will provide our viewers LIVE access to the stories and people in whom our viewers have a special interest,” said Watts. “With this agreement, Comcast continues to demonstrate its commitment to working with independent programmers with diverse points of view.”
BTNC will construct the first coast-to-coast all high-definition television newsgathering infrastructure with its network operations center located in Washington, DC.
Black Television News Channel will be the nation’s only provider of 24/7 cable news programming dedicated to covering the unique perspective of African American communities. BTNC will provide access to information and educational programming to meet the specific needs of this growing and dynamic community, which is a major consumer of subscription television services. BTNC will provide a new voice that represents African Americans in mainstream media and fosters political, economic, and social discourse. BTNC’s programming will shed light on the unique social, economic, and political challenges facing urban communities and help close the “image gap” that exists today between the negative African American stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media news and our enterprising black communities.