Black News Channel shutting down

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Black News Channel, which launched Feb. 14, 2020, is shutting down just over a month after turning two.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the news that the channel would cease operations March 25, 2022, noting that billionaire Shad Khan opted not to continue investing in the venture.

The channel shut down operations at 5 p.m. eastern.

BNC was co-founded by TV executive Bob Brillante and former congressman J.C. Watts, with major backing from Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, reportedly in the neighborhood of $50 million.

Its goal was to provide news from a Black perspective.

It had hoped to make money from advertising and carriage deals and inked a deal for CBS Media Ventures to handle ad sales.

The news was confirmed when executives sent employees an email.

“Unfortunately, due to challenging market conditions and global financial pressures, we have been unable to meet our financial goals, and the timeline afforded to us has run out. It’s with a broken heart that I am letting you all know that, effective immediately, BNC will cease live production and file for bankruptcy. We are saddened and disappointed by this reality and recognize the stress that this puts on you and your families,” CEO Princell Hair wrote.

About 230 employees will likely lose their jobs.

The channel attracted names including sportscaster and host Mike Hill and former WGCL anchor Sharon Reed.

According to the Times, employees have also been warned that their last paychecks could be delayed.

The network had started cutting back it staff in December 2021.

In January, 13 current and former BNC staffers brought a class action lawsuit for gender discrimination against the network. BNC denied the claims and was seeking dismissal.

The channel, which has a studio and newsroom facility in Tallahassee, Florida, tried selling itself to Entertainment Studios, which is owned by prominent Black entrepreneur Byron Allen, but those talks were not successful, according to the Times.

Ahead of its first anniversary in 2021, the channel redesigned its logo, added more progressive voices to its schedule and was in the process of setting up a facility in Atlanta.

According to Nielsen, the channel had been attracting less than 10,000 viewers on average, according to most recently available data. It is available in 50 million homes, so the network was significantly underperforming.

Nexstar’s cable news channel NewsNation, which is billed as a bias-free general news offering, had slightly better ratings for its morning show, “Morning in America,” but also improves significantly in other timeslots, including up to 136,000 viewers for its early evening newscast as of early 2022.

NewsNation launched as a three hour long primetime newscast in September 2020 on what was then WGN America. On March 1, 2021, the entire channel took on the NewsNation name.

It’s interesting to note that NewsNation, which doesn’t air news 24 hours a day (yet), was getting 45,000 people (that’s four times the reported average viewership of BNC) to tune in to watch a “Murder She Wrote” rerun in the early morning before a schedule change moved the show off that timeslot.