The bulb dims on Mark Burnett’s and Roma Downey’s channel
[Editor’s Note: This story was updated December 10.]
The light is about to be turned off on Light TV as Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios is taking charge.
On January 15, Light TV becomes TheGrio.TV, an new digital subchannel network targeted to African-Americans and is based on the website The Grio.com, also run by Allen’s Entertainment Studios, also known as Allen Media Group.
A deal was struck with eleven Fox-owned-and-operated stations in the largest markets including Chicago, where Grio is likely to wind up on WFLD channel 32.4, where Light TV is – or at least was before Fox pulled the network from its subchannels on December 5. Ironically, the deal does not include WJBK Detroit, home to the one of the largest-indexed African-American markets in the country.
TheGrio.TV plans to run movies, off-network sitcoms, concerts, talk shows, variety shows, game shows, news and lifestyle content targeted to African-American audiences. Entertainment Studios plans to make TheGrio.TV available over-the-air, cable and satellite, and free digital streaming platforms.
No programming acquisitions has been named as of yet.
In a press release, Allen – who is founder and chairman of Allen Media Group, said: “The Grio — which means ‘storyteller’ in Africa — is the first platform to offer an online digital news destination, a free streaming app providing local news, weather, sports, traffic, and entertainment content geofenced to the user’s ZIP code and an over-the-air broadcast television network.
Allen adds: “TheGrio.TV is especially important to me as it will both serve and uplift all viewers. TheGrio.TV is the first and only 100% African American-owned and targeted broadcast television network and free digital platform — making us truly authentic, without being filtered or controlled by others outside of the community.”
Allen’s company purchased Light TV and This TV from MGM in October; This, whose former owner purchased the rest of the stake it didn’t own from Tribune Media before the company was sold to Nexstar Media Group, is expected to continue as a movie channel.
The launch of TheGrio.TV puts the new diginet in direct competition with Bounce, another African-American targeted diginet launched by Katz Communications in 2005. Katz has since been bought by Scripps.
Light TV was launched on December 22, 2016 by MGM CEO (and reality producer) Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey to provide a family-friendly diginet with off-network dramas and sitcoms, and movies mainly from the MGM library (those not owned by Turner/WarnerMedia.) In Chicago, the channel initially appeared on the digital subchannel of Fox-owned WPWR-TV (50.4), but shifted to the space of sister station WFLD when Fox decided to sell WPWR’s spectrum.
While digital subchannels such as MeTV, Antenna TV, and Bounce have been successful, Light TV now joins other now-forgotten diginets on the scrap heap, including The Tube, Universal Sports, NBC Weather Plus, MundoFox/MundoMax, and LiveWell Network.
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