Cable TV outlet Black News Channel has abruptly shut down after two years on the air, and just after hitting new viewership highs during this week’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
In a memo to employees, CEO Princell Hair cited “challenging market conditions and global financial pressures” for the decision to wind down operations, according to multiple reports. The National Association of Black Journalists, a prominent trade group, confirmed the shutdown in a blog post. It pledged to support the roughly 200 employees affected by the move.
BNC was co-founded by former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts and longtime TV executive Bob Brillante. After years of planning, the network made its debut in 2020 after billionaire Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid “Shad” Khan signed on as a partner.
The Tallahassee, FL-based network originally launched in about 33 million households via cable and satellite and eventually got to 50 million households. But multiple reports indicated it could not meet payroll obligations this week and would begin airing old programming for the next few weeks before leaving the air altogether.
Last year, BNC initiated a major revamp, adding a new morning show as well as notable on-air commentators like Charles Blow and Marc Lamont Hill.
For all cable programmers, the wages of cord-cutting are continuing to make life difficult. As ratings keep declining, so does revenue from advertising and distribution. While cash flow is healthy for many well-entrenched networks, newer ones have become vulnerable. Large media companies like Disney, NBCUniversal and Paramount Global have started to cull their portfolios, discontinuing some of their less-robust networks.
The end for BNC was reported just hours after the company was celebrating success with the Supreme Court nomination hearings. A tweet from the network’s official handle, which is pinned to the top of its feed, notes an “all-time viewership record,” adding, “THANK YOU ! Let’s Keep the momentum going – watch 15 minutes daily!”
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