Black News Channel was launched in 2020 with the goal of focusing on black communities. It has now been removed from the airwaves for just two years. The reason? A discrimination lawsuit against the channel and insufficient funds. Princell Hair, the CEO of the company, confirmed Friday that they were filing bankruptcy. The channel will cease broadcasting any new programming on Friday afternoon.
Some 230 employees, mostly black, were made redundant by the announcement. The channel failed to make payroll on Friday, just a day after telling workers their checks would be “delayed,” and it’s unclear when or if they will get the money they are owed. A source familiar with the plan told the Los Angeles Times that employee benefits would last for one week, and no severance payment will be paid.
The channel’s main investor, Jacksonville Jaguars team owner Shad Khan, was unwilling to pony up further cash after his $50 million initial funding round got the network off the ground, sources told the outlet. While its owners attempted to sell it to other media companies, none were biting, and the office suffered what Hair called “Very painful staff reductions at every level of the network” in the months preceding the shutdown.
Hair ultimately blamed “Global financial and market pressures are creating challenging conditions,” but the network was also dealing with a gender discrimination lawsuit, with current and former female employees claiming they were being paid less than their male counterparts and called “Insufficiently feminine” by management.
It was also difficult to market the channel. This channel was created at a moment when many viewers switched to streaming media like Netflix and cable news channels were struggling. According to Nielsen data, the Black News Channel only managed 10,000 viewers per program according to Times. The conservative political outlook of the former Republican congressman JC (Oklahoma), hampered the launch of this channel.
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The network’s look was changed to be more similar to CNN, which Watts had previously managed in the US. The network added cable-safe opinions figures from CNN and the New York Times to its lineup, and launched a new prime time schedule in March. It was not able to keep up with the growing viewership, even though it had provided in-depth coverage on the trial of Derek Chauvin (an ex-police officer from Minneapolis) and Ahmaud Abery’s trials in Georgia.
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