The media entrepreneur comes to the rescue with an $11 million buyout
Black media entrepreneur Byron Allen has been building his empire one by one and this week, he added another piece.
A bankruptcy court judge in Tallahassee, Fla. approved an $11 million buyout of the Black News Channel by Allen Media Group, a company whose holdings include The Weather Channel and Entertainment Studios. In 2020, Allen bought This TV and Light TV from MGM, converting the latter to TheGrio.TV.
“[Our company] will deliver a best-in-class network to serve the underserved African American community and the advertisers who want to reach this extremely valuable audience”, said Allen in a statement. “Also, we appreciate the opportunity to provide cable operators, satellite companies, telcos and digital platforms diversity of ownership, voices and viewpoints on their programming lineups by having a 100 percent African-American-owned network.”
BNC is carried by systems such as Comcast, Charter, and DirecTV in about 45 million homes nationwide. The channel launched two years ago, before the pandemic crippled everything. Under its original ownership team – including Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the network often had trouble meeting payroll and closed down in March with more than 230 employees in addition to the 120 who were let go around Christmas. There were also allegations of sexual harassment at the network.
Despite the closure, the network has been able to stay on the air and added other programming, including documentaries. Some sort of live programming has returned, but on a limited basis.
Allen hopes to expand BNC’s subscriber base to 80 million within the next six months, but could be tough to do given the era of cord-cutting we’re in. So far, no plans have been announced on how Allen would program the network, or if the number of hours of live programming would increase in the short-term.