Tag Archives: media

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.

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The HBCUpreneur Corner – Morgan State’s Jarrett Carter, Sr. & Carter Media Enterprises


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Name: Jarrett Carter Sr.

Alma Mater: Morgan State University, Class of 2003

Business Name & Description: Carter Media Enterprises, a new media development and consulting company with focus on coverage of African-American news and lifestyle.

What year did you found your company? 2008

What was the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? One of the most exciting highlights of my career thus far was the chance to give the keynote address to Hampton University’s Greer-Dawson-Wilson Student Leadership program. To take a stage at one of the nation’s most prestigious HBCUs headed by perhaps the greatest black college president in history, and to speak to students who will soon become esteemed leaders in a wide range of fields is something I will never forget. And I will be forever grateful to Hampton University for such a honor.

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What made you want to start your own company? Understanding that media was changing in a way that would give more black people a chance to have media leverage and credibility, I thought that I would bring a unique perspective to some underrepresented elements of our culture, and so I started a series of blogs focusing on HBCU news and issues, black images in mass media, and hip-hop culture from an artistic perspective. (StereotypeSquad.com and RapReservoir.com, respectively.)

Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? Morgan gave me so many great role models. Among my professors was Frank Dexter Brown, the creator of YSB Magazine, Dr. Ruthe Sheffey, one of the world’s leading experts on William Shakespeare and Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Michael Bayton, a brilliant scholar and professor of American literature, and Dr. Burney Hollis, my Dean Emeritus of the MSU College of Liberal Arts who to this day remains a source of humor, insight and inspiration as a Morgan Man. All of these people taught me, but also inspired me to think as a creator and observer, and not just as a student.

How do you handle complex problems? I talk to my wife constantly. She really is my best friend, my harshest critic, and the love of my life. Between her perspective and mine, we are frequently able to hash out solutions for difficult problems. I’m also blessed to have great mentors and friends, whom I can depend on to talk critical issues in my life, or even to have discourse on cultural problems and issues. Many times, the discourse is a good way to exercise the brain in such a way that complex personal problems often reveal simple answers.

What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? I wish I had established a larger network of media industry contacts and officials at schools. Hampton President William Harvey once told me that the key to running a college is to run it as a business with educational objectives. I set out to tell stories and to improve perceptions about HBCUs, but if I could do it over again, I would have managed my company to operate as a media brand with outreach objectives from Day One.

What do you believe HBCUs and colleges of the African Diaspora can do to spur more innovation and entrepreneurship with their students and the local community? – I think that if colleges and universities mandated for the major courses to examine ownership and business building, our students would have a different outlook on what it means to be a professional, a community member and philanthropist. They would approach work from what they could own one day, and not what company is most prestigious to work for. In turn, I think our alumni and supporters would buy into this concept enough to support by giving money and expertise.

How do you deal with rejection? When I first got started, not well. I would buy into the stereotype that black people were hesitant to support their own. But three years in, I understand that when you don’t have a lot of resources, and you are a great idea with low-level executions, our people are much more likely to invest in a personality and vision than they are an actual product. Paul Quinn President Michael Sorrell once told me that there’s no such thing as ‘no,’ only ‘not yet.’ I have found this to be true at a professional and personal level, if you invest a lot of time analyzing your vision and personality, and working to make those things come to the front of every approach you make in business or in life.

When you have down time how do you like to spend it? I’m a very simple guy, so I love being with my wife and two sons. Watching sports, playing video games, and reading are the ways I get away to think about new ideas, or to just take my mind off of overwhelming topics, requests or development strategies. I’ve learned that you have to incorporate time off to let your mind, body and spirit recover from fully investing in your calling. If you don’t, you can’t appreciate the work that you’re called to do, or the fact that you are called to do it.

What was your most memorable HBCU memory? Strangely enough, graduating from a PWI with my master’s in communication management. The five years it took me to finish that degree – a year and a half to do course requirements and three years to assemble a non-racist, supportive thesis committee, were the toughest times I ever encountered. Finishing the program made me realize several things – one, how much tougher it must have been for our forbearers to seek and endure integration in the throes of civil rights. Two, how spoiled I was by the HBCU experience of having faculty push and support you beyond the classroom. Three, how much harder I need to work for HBCUs to get fair representation in the media, so that they won’t have to endure potential scenarios of isolation, racism or discrimination at a PWI as they work towards college degrees.

In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? – College is a professional development and networking haven. You are there to learn about an industry, and to find your place within it. If you aren’t a business major, take some business courses for electives, and learn all that you can through volunteering and internship about how to do a job and manage a product. Before you leave, make sure that you have incorporated an LLC, and even if you don’t know what product or service you can offer, create a business idea that can evolve into a business plan. In a down economoy, it is the person with the most creativity, the most innovation, and the one who finds a need to fill that will become wealthy, and will be able to give back to our people to build more entrepreneurship in our communities.

HBCU Money™ Business Book Feature – Television’s Imageable Influences: The Self-Perception of Young African-Americans


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Camille O. Cosby presents a startling examination of how young African-Americans are dramatically impacted by the pervasive negative images of their culture that are regularly portrayed on television. Dr. Cosby shows how American media establishments have engineered a climate of ignorance and disenfranchisement by fostering misinformation and indifference. She maintains that a national viewers’ boycott of programming containing such negative images is the first step towards making the television industry face up to its responsibility as the most powerful communications tool in our nation.
Contents: Statement of the Problem; Influence of Perception on Human Behavior; The Impact of Television Images on How Individuals View Themselves; What Specific Aspects of Self Are Addressed by Particular Television Imageries of African-Americans? What Possible Influences Do Particular Television Imageries Have on Self-Perceptions of Selected Young Adult African-Americans? What Specific Aspects of Self Are Addressed by Particular Television Imageries of African-Americans? What Possible Influence Do Particular Television Imageries Have on Self-Perceptions of Selected Young Adult African-Americans? Nielson Media Research; Personal History Form and Profiles of Interviewees.

African America’s Top 5 Highest Paid Media Personalities Of 2012


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How good is it to be the man with second ranked courtroom show and the longest running court show featuring an African American judge? It is good enough to ensure you make more money than the next 4 on our list combined. These 5 combine to bring in $34.5 million annually in salary and often have the ears and eyes of millions on a daily basis. A nice day’s work at the office – or in this case the studio.

1 – Judge Joe Brown (pictured above)

2012 Salary: $20 Million

Show: Judge Joe Brown Show

2 – Al Roker

2012 Salary: $7 Million

Show: NBC News

3 – Robin Roberts

2012 Salary: $6 Million

Show: ABC News

4 – Gayle King

2012 Salary: $2 Million

Show: CBS News

5 – Sherri Shepherd

Salary: $1.5 Million

Show: The View

Source: TV Guide; Daily Beast; Huffington Post

The Shake Up At OWN


By William A. Foster, IV

In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail. – Cassius Longinus

There appears to be a storm brewing on the horizons at OWN. Maybe, it could even be described as a hurricane. SNL Kagan yesterday reported that OWN, the 50/50 partnership between Oprah Winfrey’s HARPO & Discovery Communications, is hemorrhaging money. In 2011, the network posted a loss of $107 million and is expecting to post a 2012 loss north of $142 million. It is cliche but “OWN, we have a problem.”

OWN this week shook the place up by releasing 30 people and letting go of Rosie O’Donnell. This probably still won’t resolve OWN’s ratings issues. Oprah Winfrey is learning that there is a ocean of difference between operating a one hour program and being responsible for twenty-four hours of programming. The short-term answer has been more Oprah. She has been interviewing the likes of Lady Gaga and Bobbi Kristina Houston. The latter coming shortly after her mother’s death which seemed to leave a bit of a bad taste in some people’s minds and leaving the network still searching for its strategical footing.

It appears both HARPO and Discovery overestimated just how much Oprah Winfrey people really wanted. There is the reality that when Oprah Winfrey backed Presidential Candidate Barack Obama and promoted a controversial religious book that her ratings started a steady decline among her conservative viewership. Ms. Winfrey and Discovery were banking that she would be riding a wave of popularity into their new partnership. Her decision to abandon her apolitical and neutral stances on political and religious topics apparently cost her more viewers than they thought. Up until that point she was essentially Teflon on sensitive issues but those issues were rarely if ever political or religious, which are more divisive than your typical hot button issues.

I’ve made the argument previously that Oprah Winfrey would do well to become a NFL Owner and work out a deal to feature her team on OWN. Whatever the solution is however, let’s hope the leadership at HARPO figures it out quickly or we could see Discovery dissolve the partnership and network. HARPO’s ownership at 50% is the largest current African American owned stake in a network and its potential failure would be a serious setback in our need for more not less institutional ownership.

Disclaimer: There is no ownership of Discover Communications by myself, my business, or my family as of this article’s publishing.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.