Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Bob Johnson Planning New TV Network

It will be called, the Urban channel.

*Collective groan*

My immediate reaction was, why create a new network now, especially after selling BET to Viacom in 2000, a move that was heavily criticized by many in the black community, labeling Johnson the proverbial "sellout?" TV-One, the other black cable TV network has yet to find itself; and the Black Family Channel is now defunct. And I hear BET is floundering. Clearly, black TV networks have yet to prove they belong.

Without seeing a list of potential programming it will carry, I can't imagine what this Urban Television Network will look, feel and sound like. I can only hope that it's not more of the same.

It seems completely unnecessary, and maybe even a risky investment in this climate. But Johnson is a savvy business man, so I assume he wouldn't be creating the channel if he didn't think there was a market for what he plans to offer (whatever that might be), and thus, money to be made. From where I'm sitting, I don't see it... unless it's something he hopes to create and then sell for a tidy profit eventually - meaning, this isn't necessarily about creating a strong, lasting brand, but rather a short term investment to cash out of later.

We'll see...

A thought: maybe "black" is no longer a niche, and it's time we put an end to race-based solutions to problems such as the dearth of programming featuring non-white talent in front and behind the camera. Maybe the wiser investment would be to focus in on a non-race specific niche, and exploit it, and attract an appreciative multicultural audience.

Here's the article:
Robert L. Johnson, the billionaire founder of the Black Entertainment Television, is looking to get back into television is a big way by programming at least one channel on the Ion Media's stations under unique "share-time" licenses.

Like BET, the programming would be aimed at black viewers.

According to FCC filings, Ion and Johnson are forming Urban Television LLC, a venture owned by Johnson (51 percent) and Ion (49 percent), and asking the FCC to grant Urban share-time licenses that would enable Urban to broadcast its programming on a digital channel of Ion stations in 42 markets.

"Under the terms of the share-time licenses, Urban would be authorized to operate on the same channels as the Ion stations on a shared basis," the filings say.

Johnson and Ion contend that the share-time license would entitle the Urban channel to must carry in all markets.



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