Black Television News Channel (BTNC) will be a unique multi-platform news and information channel created for African Americans, subscription television’s most dynamic, high growth, and loyal consumers.
Despite the proliferation of basic and premium cable television channels during the past two decades, the number of cable news networks dedicated to serving the nation’s African American communities remains at ZERO! Black Television News Channel will be the nation’s first channel to fill this significant void and provide African America viewers news, information, and educational content focused on their interests and needs, while tapping into subscription television’s most profitable market.
For the first time since the civil-rights movement, Americans begin this new year with no Black-owned full-power TV stations. In 2008, there were 18 Black-owned and operated full-power TV stations, representing just 1.3 percent of all TV licenses. Today, all 18 stations are gone.
BTNC will employ a multi-platform approach that utilizes traditional linear cable and satellite service for television viewing while also introducing interactive, social-media and e-commerce features. BTNC has partnered with the nation’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) to provide the network access to facilities, content, and subject matter expertise, as well as access to a rich and diverse pool of academic experts, authors and specialists who have agreed to serve as nightly on-air contributing analysts.
In November 2012, the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at Florida State University conducted an in-depth study on the economic impact that BTNC will have on Florida A&M University’s campus and host community. The study determined that BTNC would generate $33.6 million in economic stimulus each year for its host city.
BTNC will produce 14 hours of original news programming daily. Prime time (6pm – 9pm) will feature three one-hour personality driven programs. Black Television News Channel will replay its prime time block of programming from 9pm until midnight. Midnight to 6am will be sold to religious and gospel pre-paid programmers.
Each day’s programming will begin with a traditional 30-minute news wheel at 6am. The news wheel will be refreshed each half hour and may feature “LIVE break-ins” and/or live weather updates. BTNC’s programming will shed light on the unique social, economic, and political challenges facing many of our urban communities, engaging African Americans in the daily discourse required to meet those challenges.
FOUNDERS / MANAGEMENT
BTNC founding co-managers are JC Watts, Jr. (a former congressman) and Robert Brillante (a 30-year cable TV veteran and founder of Florida’s News Channel). The co-managers have invested more than $4 million, to date, and have successfully accomplished the following five objectives: 1) polled audience demand; 2) conducted 18 months of LIVE on-air programming trials; 3) built valuable content and advertising partnerships; 4) acquired critical distribution agreements; and 5) steered our nation’s legislative and regulatory policy to promote a diversity of voices in cable TV programming.
The executive and management team has been carefully recruited by the co-managers to provide the company with the required expertise in the area of broadcast management, regulatory policymaking, marketing and advertising sales, engineering and broadcast equipment integration, and telecommunications and corporate law. The team is comprised of:
- Frank Watson—30-year veteran of the broadcast television, cable TV, radio and broadband industry
- Steve Pruitt—Washington, DC insider who served as the executive vice president of the United Negro College Fund and budget director for the US House of Representatives
- Evan Leo, P.A.—a member of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evens and Figel Law Firm and one of Washington DC’s premier telecommunications and regulatory attorneys
BTNC represents a collaborative effort of broadcast veterans, policymakers, journalists, community leaders, educators, advertising executives, and content providers. The network has partnered with SONY to equip and integrate its network operation center (NOC), studio facilities, teleport, mobile ENG infrastructure, and automated newsroom. VIZ RT will provide BTNC its advanced virtual reality television production assets. BTNC is also partnered with WorldLink Ventures, a global leader in multi-platform sales, to broker the network’s remnant advertising inventory. BTNC’s financial partners include Inkbridge, LLC, Enterprise Florida, and the City of Tallahassee’s Economic Development Council.
The cornerstone of BTNC’s business case includes the following facts about its targeted audience:
- African Americans are extremely loyal to programming and merchant promotions that speak to them. All of the top 10 rated shows among African Americans feature black cast members.
- African Americans are dissatisfied with the negative imagery and stereotyping perpetuated by mainstream media news outlets today. Of those African Americans polled nationally, 80 percent say it is “very important” to have a news channel programmed for their unique and diverse interests.
- African Americans—more than any other culture—depend on subscription television to stay informed, watching 28 percent more cable news than non-minority viewers.
- Widespread political support for the launch of the nation’s first and only African American news channel has been documented and publically vocalized by state and federal regulators, lawmakers, civil rights activists, the faith community, and academia.
- African Americans, despite being subscription television’s most valuable customers, are currently underserved by cable TV and satellite television programming options.
Nielsen’s 2013 report on African American consumers revealed the following:
- 91% of African Americans “believe that Black (owned and produced) media is more relevant to them.”
- 81% believe that “products advertised on Black media are more relevant to them.”
- 77% feel that “Black media has a better understanding of the needs and issues that affect them.”
- 73% believe that “Black media keeps them in touch with their heritage.”
BTNC will implement a dynamic and interactive social media campaign that includes a dominant presence in social networks, advanced mobile applications for real-time delivery of news content and U-gen videos, and widespread workforce training using the network’s Historical Black College and University (HCBU) partnerships and infrastructure.
18-MONTH PROGRAM TRIALS
BTNC has a tested and proven business model for producing and transmitting television news that has achieved unprecedented operational and economic efficiencies, producing a superior quality newscast at a fraction of the cost of existing cable news.
African Americans continue to be subscription television’s most valuable customer.
- In 2013, African Americans watched 37% more TV, ordered more pay-TV and VOD services, and owned more HDTV sets than any other segment of the US population.
- African Americans spend seven hours and 17 minutes per day viewing TV, again far more than any other market segment.
- African Americans currently represent a $1 trillion dollar economy.
- African Americans spend more than $5 billion annually on subscription television services.
- Today, 43 million African Americans live in the US and the black population is growing 40 percent faster than the general population.
- $2.24 billion was spent last year on African American targeted advertising.
African Americans, who comprise roughly 13.7 percent of the general population or 43 million strong, will switch to culturally specific programming and away from non-African American oriented programming with a 250 percent greater frequency than any other consumer segment. Considerable research has been conducted over the past decade concerning the lack of African American cable programming and the predictable cry for parity from within the African American community. Much of this research appears in academic journals and media trade publications. A sampling of this research has been compiled by BTNC and is available on the network’s Web site or upon request.
The book Black Still Matters by Pepper Miller illustrates how the negative imagery of African Americans by today’s television news reflects only the extreme. Television news audiences see the mega-rich Black athletes and entertainers on one side and the impoverished, crime-ridden Blacks on the other. The “invisible middle”, which represents the vast majority of African Americans, is today ignored and marginalized. BTNC’s original programming will help eliminate the negative stereotypes that exists today in mainstream news outlets and shed light on those who find themselves in the “invisible middle.”
The mission of Black Television News Channel is to produce intelligent programming that is informative, educational, entertaining, inspiring, and empowering for distribution to the network’s African American audience.