Black News Channel still alive. The Tallahassee-based company is hoping to broadcast again.
Last month, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Karen Specie permitted Shahid Khan, the billionaire key investor of Black News Channel (BNC), to infuse the fledgling company with $1.6 million. The cash will be used to float Black News Channel by keeping up payments with its vendors and 17-remaining employees, as it shops for another buyer.
According to a Bloomberg report, there are potential buyers. “We think this case is going to rise and fall within the next sixty days,” Christopher Schreiber, a lawyer for Khan’s investment entity, said in BNC’s hearing. “Hopefully within that time we’re going to have a sale.”
Black News Channel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after it closed its broadcasting doors on March 25 then laid off 250 of its employees without fair warning. “Remember that we built something great here,” Princell Hair said in his memo to staff who were departing. In 2021, Princell Hair, a former CNN executive rebranded then relaunched the network. He continued. “BNC, or something very close to it, will surely return at some point, because the world needs it, and all of you have proven it can be done.”
Rather than liquidating, the bankruptcy status allows operations to continue. Papers filed show they are $25 million in debt.
While BNC’s Youtube Channel still shows segments from its cable broadcast, their twitter handle has been completely scrubbed and their Facebook page is now in the hands of a South Asian company. However, the Instagram page is up, yet inactive.
In 2019, Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pakistani-American, invested $50-million investment by Pakistani-American into a company founded by U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) and media executive Bob Brillante. On April 13, 2022, it was announced that Brillante stepped down. “Bob has been with BNC from its inception and has helped nurture this network from the seeds of an idea to the reality of launching a culturally specific news network focused on the diverse perspectives of the African American community,” Watts said in a written statement. “We are all grateful for his efforts and his sacrifice, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
BNC launched as an independent network “dedicated to covering the diverse perspectives of African American communities.” While in active operations, it ran on Spectrum, Xfinity X-1, and The Roku Channel, and offered 24/7 broadcasting. During his short tenure, Hair brought columnist Charles Blow, and commentator-scholar Marc Lamont Hill. But, in an earlier Ark Republic report, the company was plagued with gender and racial bias complaints that compounded its inability to meet what Hair called the “challenging market conditions and global financial pressures.”
Hair is still listed as BNC’s CEO. His last mention on his Linkedin profile was that BNC partnered with Black News Channel to simulcast the State of the Union this past March.
The National Association of Black Journalists stepped in to help the hundreds of terminated employees secure their last paycheck from BNC. No mention of a buyer was known at press time.
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