The Black News Channel’s abrupt end caught viewers and staff by surprise. But the news network will get a second chance under the leadership of media mogul Byron Allen.
A federal bankruptcy court approved the sale of Black News Channel to Allen Media Group for $11 million after Jacksonville Jaguar’s billionaire owner Shahid Khan shut down the network. According to a statement, Allen intends to grow the Black News Channel viewership from 45 million linear subscribers to 80 million linear subscribers within the next six months.
“We are excited to have been selected to acquire the Black News Channel, which has approximately 300 million linear and digital subscribers,” said Byron Allen, Founder/Chairman/CEO of Allen Media Group. “Allen Media Group will deliver a best-in-class network to serve the underserved African-American community and the advertisers who want to reach this extremely valuable audience. Also, we appreciate the opportunity to provide cable operators, satellite companies, telcos, and digital platforms diversity of ownership, voices, and viewpoints on their programming line-ups by having a 100 percent African-American owned network.”
The National Association of Black Journalists congratulated Allen “for stepping up to the plate.” NABJ previously intervened at a few points on behalf of employees of the Black News Channel. Between reports of the outlet’s financial trouble and allegations of harassment and racial discrimination, employees endured plenty in the network’s short tenure.
Allen has amassed an impressive media portfolio via Allen Media Group and Entertainment Studios Networks, including The Weather Channel, the Grio and Grio.TV, Sports.TV and HBCUGO.TV. He is sure to succeed where the Khan-backed venture failed, given decades of Black media experience. In addition to the streaming platforms, Allen Media Group has acquired 27 network affiliate broadcast stations in 21 U.S. markets.
Under Allen’s leadership, Black News Channel will be Black owned a criticism of those questioning Khan’s commitment to a Black news network. When the channel stopped production in March, it had reached its highest viewership since launching in 2020.
More Black-centered news and political analysis is a good thing. Black News Channel provided space for a wider range of Black voices, some already well established in traditional media spaces and others with key perspectives representative of the Black experience.
In March, we asked what it could look like if Black outlets and talent were invested at the same rate as disinformation networks like One America News Network, which benefited from a sweetheart deal with DirectTV before being dropped. Hopefully, we will see a positive rate of return on Allen’s investment.
In an interview with Cablefax, Allen said the larger cable industry also has a second chance, noting the importance of supporting the network with subscription fees (sub fees). And if anyone knows about racial discrimination in cable subscription fees, it’s Byron Allen.
“If you really want something to succeed and you don’t want to find it in bankruptcy, and they’re pink slipping 300 Black journalists,” Allen told Cablefax. “This is the reason I sued the cable industry before for $40 billion. Are you serious? You’re going to pay anywhere from $1-2 for other cable networks, but zero for the Black News Channel?”
Allen said the cable industry needs to step up and provide real economic inclusion and sponsorships for the network to thrive.
“We’ve made the investment. We’re buying it, we have the infrastructure,” Allen said. “We just need the industry now to say, ‘You know what? That wasn’t our intent. Let us get in here and really do the right thing because we’re better than that.’”
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