Cable television giant Charter Communications announced the launch of The Black Television News Channel (BTNC), on Charter Spectrum TV, which has subscribers in 14 of the top-25 African American TV markets.
According to multichannel.com, “These markets include New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit, Boston, Tampa, Orlando, Cleveland, Charlotte, Birmingham, Norfolk, Raleigh-Durham, and New Orleans.” BTNC now has carriage agreements with three of the four major subscription television providers.
“The Black Television News Channel will provide 24/7 cable news programming dedicated to covering the unique perspective of African American communities,” reports the Tampa Bay Times. According to a press statement, BTNC’s programming will also “shed light on the unique challenges facing urban communities, and help close the ‘image gap’ that exists today between the negative black stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media news and our enterprising African American communities.”
Aspiring Young Black Journalists
BTNC’s network operations center, located on Florida A&M University’s campus in Tallahassee, FL, will include a multimillion dollar media training center for aspiring, young, black journalists. BTNC’s news programming seeks to employ a multiplatform approach, which uses traditional linear cable and satellite service for television viewing, while also introducing enhanced television services, social media applications, and e-commerce features. What’s more, BTNC is reportedly expected to create more than 100 new jobs in its host city.
BTNC is the entrepreneurial endeavor of J.C. Watts, Jr., former congressman from Oklahoma. BTNC states its programming mission is “to provide intelligent programming that will inform, educate, inspire, and empower its African American audience. BTNC will provide a new voice that represents African Americans in mainstream media and fosters political, economic, and social discourse.”
“I applaud Charter Communications for promoting Black television media which will further social and civil discourse nationally,” says Watts, in a released statement. “A diversity of voices and viewpoints is essential to maintain a robust democracy.”
BTNC will provide access to information and educational programming, to meet the specific needs of this growing and dynamic community that is a major consumer of subscription television services.
Cable TV Discrimination Lawsuit
Charter Communications is an American cable telecommunications company that offers its services to consumers and businesses under the branding of Charter Spectrum. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that the company provides services “to over 25 million customers in 41 states.” It’s also the second-largest cable operator in the United States following Comcast, based on its number of subscribers, reports The Verge.
In 2016, reports also surfaced claiming that both the Federal Communications Commission and Charter Communications were being sued for $10 billion in federal court by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and the National Association of African American Owned Media (NAAAOM), for “racial discrimination in contracting for television channel carriage.” Allen accused Charter Communications of intentionally excluding African American-owned media companies, and the suit alleged various civil rights violations. It was the second suit that Allen and NAAAOM had in the courts against the telecommunications giant, as of last January, reports deadline.com.