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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Black News Channel shuts down days after high ratings

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Media Black News Channel (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved).

The Black News Channel went offline after the 2-year-old company missed payroll and lost the backing of its biggest investor.

Princell Hair, the company’s chairman and CEO, told employees in a memo Friday that the news network would stop live production and file for bankruptcy. BNC was available in some 50 million cable and satellite households, but failed to attract many viewers.

The network, founded in 2020 by former Republican congressman JC Watts, hired more than 250 black journalists and production staff last year in a relaunch following an investment from Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn.

But it was steadily losing money, despite two rounds of layoffs, and Kahn decided to stop investing further in it. Payroll is currently three weeks away, a company spokesman said.

Hair, a former CNN executive, took over at the relaunch last year. BNC brought in contributors like New York Times columnist Charles Blow and commentator Marc Lamont Hill. Correspondents were stationed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

The end came even as BNC recorded its biggest audience this week with its live coverage of the Judiciary Committee hearing for US Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Hair said.

He told employees that their contributions had been notable, but “due to challenging market conditions and global financial pressures, we have not been able to meet our financial goals and the timeframe given to us has run out.”

Establishing a network is particularly difficult at a time when consumers have so many choices and many are cutting cable or satellite cables.

“Remember we built something great here,” Hair said in his memo. “BNC, or something very close to it, will surely come back at some point, because the world needs it and all of you have shown that it can be done.”

News of the BNC closing was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The National Association of Black Journalists said Friday that it was looking for ways to help members who are out of work because of the shutdown.

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