Black News Channel shuts down
The Black News Channel reported has a staff of 230, and some current and former employees had previously filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the network that remains pending.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Black News Channel, which launched just before the pandemic, has ceased operations. The newspaper said that the Tallahassee, Fla.-based outlet, whose majority stakeholder is Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, failed to meet payroll recently after telling employees that paychecks would be delayed.
The Black News Channel reportedly has a staff of 230, and some current and former employees had previously filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the network that remains pending. Citing people briefed on the matter, the Times said Khan would no longer invest in the operations of BNC after shopping the channel to several media companies, including Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios. Reportedly, Khan found no interest.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Khan declared bankruptcy, leaving a majority Black and Brown staff jobless and without pay. The channel itself will air repreats for the remainder of March.
Before the Times report, Roland Martin broke the information that BNC failed to pay its employees this week. Martin, the host of Roland Martin Unfiltered and owner of the Black Star Network, tweeted a memo written by BNC Human Resources Vice President Nicole Collins. The memo dated Friday, March 25, informed the staff that payroll “would be delayed.”
“We are actively working to resolve this matter quickly and will advise you with an update as soon as possible,” Collins wrote. Staffers “are angry and demanding answers,” Martin tweeted. “I have been inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails from staffers on this issue.”
The media mogul said he spoke to BNC’s CEO Princell Hair, who advised that he’s working on getting employees paid. However, Martin claimed staffers had been “left in the dark.”
The concept of the Black News Channel began with former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma Republican who brought in a group of initial investors. After at least two delays, the channel finally launched after Khan kicked in $50 million and took the reigns as majority shareholder. In much of its first year, BNC filled its website from content provided by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of the Black Press of America. NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. frequently appeared on the channel providing commentary on various news topics.