Powell, a former CBS News senior producer who worked on BET Nightly News (both owned by Viacom). “There are people who want to know how what’s going on in the world affects them as a black person. How does it affect the lives of the people in their world, in their neighborhood?” adds Powell, who is currently a producer for the cable outlet Voom HDNews, the nation’s only news channel that broadcasts strictly in hi-definition.
Experts contend that essential for BTNC’s success will be the necessary resources to deliver quality programming. One key resource will be on-air talent. While the company has not released any financial data or possible commentators with regard to its launch, for some perspective on costs, Will J. Wright, the general manager of Voom HDNews, estimates that it can cost approximately $7 million to $8 million annually to produce a quality one-hour news show. With regard to key on-air talent, radio personality Michael Baisden said in an interview this week that he is definitely interested in BTNC.
Powell stresses that the network must secure people experienced in putting together news programming. “General business experience is not enough,” she says. She attributes the failure of BET Nightly News, in part, to those in charge lacking the experience necessary to run a news operation.
In an ever competitive and crowded media and entertainment marketplace where the stakes are always riding high on the launch of any new television channel, for the sake of the black community and the sake of BTNC, we must all hope that the network has what it takes to keep us watching.
George Alexander’s column on the business of entertainment appears weekly at blackenterprise.com. He is the author of “Why We Make Movies” (Random House, $15.95), and ” Queens: Portraits of Black Women and their Fabulous Hair” (Random House, $29.95).