Tag Archives: african american media ownership

Black News Channel’s Chairman J.C. Watts Discusses BNC’s Deep HBCU Ties & FAMU Partnership


In a recent interview with Bold TV, Chairman of Black News Channel, J.C. Watts, discusses his plans for the coming launch of the new television channel that seeks to focus on a myriad of topics from culture, religion, politics, economics, and more that cover the diverse range of African America’s views on topics. Chairman Watts emphasizes that this will be a channel for African Americans and by African Americans. Just how far that is to go though we will discuss later on in the article.

Starting at the 8:50 mark in the video, Chairman Watts discusses with Ms. Sheffield, Founder of Bold TV, the important relationship that Black News Channel will seek to build with HBCUs and just how much content there is available within those institutions alone. A statement that should be not underappreciated given that BNC is going to attempt to be a 24/7 news channel. While the plan a few years ago was for BCN to be housed on the campus of Florida A&M University, the company has shifted its focus on making the FAMU School of Journalism a target school for BCN with internships, curriculum engagement, and employment opportunities upon graduation.

The company features a host of Rattler alumnae. Mr. Amir Windom, a rising star in media circles will be the Director of Creative Services. It also features Ms. Georgia Dawkins, who will serve as Director of HBCU Services. Lastly, the Director of Corporate Business Development is Ms. Erika Littles.

Ms. Sheffield brings up just some of the larger outlets in the landscape that currently stands in African American targeted media like The Root, Black Entertainment Television, NBC Black, OWN, TV One, and questions aloud where BCN will find its place among the field.

However, a point that was not brought up and should always be at the forefront of our minds when new products are launched that target African America is who actually is profiting from our eyeballs. We are often providing the labor and the viewership in many instances while reaping none of the economic rewards that comes with ownership and ultimately the control of the narrative. BET is owned by Viacom, NBC is owned by Comcast, The Root is owned by Univision, which itself is owned by very Eurocentric private equity firms, and even OWN, the channel beloved by Oprah followers, is majority owned by Discovery Communications. On the website for Black News Channel, while Chairman J.C. Watts is listed as a co-founder, the other co-founder is Bob Brillante. What is the potential ownership split? There are seven other owner/investors listed on the company’s website, but what each individuals stake is remains unclear. As a private company, they are certainly not required by any means to disclose this information, but it would certainly go a long way to endorsing just how much of an African American “owned” media asset this actually is.

There is a harsh reality that the majority of sizeable media assets focusing on African Americans is not in the ownership hands of African Americans. The Washington Post reported that in 2013, “African American ownership remains particularly low, hovering at less than one percent of all television properties, and less than 2 percent of radio.” This is certainly not to say that Black News Channel will not have an impact. It is projected to employ almost 100 people, many of them being HBCU alumni and students as we have already seen in key positions, but we must push the envelope further. We need more investment in publications that are owned by our community like HBCU Digest, Atlanta Black Star, HBCU Gameday and many others.  Traditional media is not dying, it is evolving (and consolidating into the hands of a few) and has already done so in major ways. Unfortunately, we are often lacking the resources to keep up despite our ingenuity.

We appreciate that the Black News Channel makes it a point to be transparent about their ownership, hope that they will be an inclusive platform to smaller African American owned publications looking to establish themselves, and definitely continue to integrate itself within the many schools of journalism that HBCUs have and the richness that those assets can bring to the table.

Tired Of Poor Media Coverage – An HBCU Alum Makes Plans To Start Buying Ownership Stake In Local TV Station


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The year was coming to an end and I was on the phone with the secretary of the managing partner and president of an up and coming investment firm. I was hoping to land an interview after a tip came in that he was starting to establish a stake in a local TV station after being frustrated of their coverage of his alma mater over the past year. His secretary says emphatically to me, “He will meet with you, but only on the condition of anonymity.”

I walked into the cigar shop greeted by a fog of smoke and a moment of silence, quick stares, and boyish grins. It was obvious they do not see women in here often, but it did not take me long to see why he frequents a place like this. It was a laid back atmosphere and with a bit of ear hustling there were business deals and conversations taking place all around me. This was a place for men on a mission. It was not hard for me to spot him, given we were the only two African Americans in the shop.

He walked over and sat down as he introduced himself and got straight to business saying, “The last straw for me was the media coverage of our gradation ceremony. They even managed to somehow spin THAT negative.” I then poked at why he felt the need to keep anonymity on the situation given that it could inspire others. He replied, “Have you ever read Art of War? Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.” The issue of publicity stems from his firm being small with limited resources, they are going to have to accumulate their stake in a slow and steady approach. It appears they are going to go out of their way to not have the management try to install any poison pills against a hostile takeover and not to buy too much at once as to drive up the stock price. “Those are always two major concerns in a hostile takeover and make no mistake this is hostile. I just do not want them to know its hostile until its too late”, he said. The coverage of his own alma mater will clearly become more favorable if he is successful, but what of the other colleges and universities in the area that are not HBCUs? What kind of coverage will they receive? He said, “I am not here to be Mother Theresa, I am here to win, I am here to make it more profitable, improve my alma mater’s social capital, and move those profits back into our community.” In other words, all is fair in love and war.

If nothing else is clear, he plans to kill his prey in a way that is almost snake like and squeeze the life out of it slowly but surely. Will the firm succeed? It is hard to objectively say. They are going up against well-seasoned investors’ and deeper pockets, but we could be looking at one of the most important coups in African American media ownership if successful. Even if successful, he made it clear that this would just be the start and they would then turn their eyes toward other local TV station ownership in other HBCU towns. That sound you just heard? The first domino dropping.

Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/suntzu401677.html#FK3JjCiTiT8sTxL4.99
Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/suntzu401677.html#wxupCPp7TLzWdFtl.99
Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/suntzu401677.html#wxupCPp7TLzWdFtl.99