As reported previously, the Black News Channel filed for bankruptcy after losing one of its biggest investors, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn. Cablefax reports that the CEO and sole shareholder of Entertainment Studios Network, Byron Allen placed a bid worth $11 million to buy the network.
The deadline for the bid was July 11 under the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida and sadly, it’s being reported that there were no other qualified competitors. Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Network could be on its way to becoming the official buyer of the Black News Channel. Per court documents, there was a hearing for approval on Tuesday, July 19 at 10 a.m. EST held before Chief Judge Karen Specie. If approved, the Allen Media family will welcome 300 million linear and digital subscribers from Black News Channel’s network through Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon, Roku, and more.
“There isn’t a bank in the world where we can deposit the words. We have to do it with real economic inclusion and sponsorships. We’ve made the investment. We’re buying it, we have the infrastructure,” Allen said, according to Cablefax. “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.”
Earlier this year, according to Deadline, the media mogul’s companies including Weather Group, Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN), and CF Entertainment have sued Nielsen, claiming the ratings company was not forthcoming about the reliability of its audience measurement data for smaller TV networks. The suit file Nielsen committed fraud when it agreed to provide ratings to Allen’s Entertainment Studio Networks, a group of seven niche TV channels that have limited distribution on cable and satellite systems. Nielsen had to admit that it undercounted TV viewing during the pandemic as COVID-19 health protocols kept the company from updating its panel of homes. The company also acknowledged it undercounted out-of-home viewing from September 2021 through January 2022. Media companies say the discrepancies have cost them millions of dollars in ad revenue.
Black News Channel was founded in 2020 by former GOP congressman J.C. Watts and immediately hired more than 250 Black journalists and production personnel in a relaunch following an investment by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan. But it was consistently losing money, despite two rounds of layoffs, and Khan decided to stop investing in it further.
Princell Hair, a former CNN executive, took over in the relaunch last year and brought on contributors like Charles Blow, columnist at The New York Times, and commentator Marc Lamont Hill. Correspondents were stationed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia. However, the end came even as BNC recorded its biggest audience ever this week with its live coverage of the Judiciary Committee hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Hair said.
In addition, the outlet reports that Black News Channel received less than $2 million in ad dollars in one year alone. Therefore, Allen will work to reinvest dollars into the Black News Channel.
He also added that the purchase will give the cable industry and sponsors a chance to redeem themselves by uplifting the home of diverse voices.
“It’s a bad mark on us as a country that the Black News Channel didn’t get enough support, to have diversity in ownership, diversity in voices and diversity of viewpoints,” Allen said, the outlet reports. “Alright cable industry, you’ve got one more chance at that. Alright ad community, you’ve got one more chance at that. So we’re going to work closely with folks to let them show the world who they really are.”