The network has been based in Tallahassee, Florida, but hired dozens of employees in Atlanta, where Hair had ambitious plans to eventually move its headquarters.
In August 2021, Hair told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “If the business continues to grow as it is, we probably can make that transition in the next couple of years.”
Eric Deggans, full-time TV critic for National Public Radio, said he was saddened to see BNC’s demise. “I was really hoping they would pull it off,” he said in a text. “But the realities of the news business were aligned against them in so many ways. They achieved quite a lot. I wish it had been enough.”
Journalist Roland Martin posted the news today about the payroll issues. He predicted earlier Friday that BNC was doomed, especially after about half the staff was laid off in December.
“I knew even the job cuts weren’t enough,” Martin said in an interview with the AJC. “The cash outflow was too large combined with a lack of ratings. It’s highly unfortunate. You have a lot of Black journalists committed to this concept but at the end of the day, business is business.”
BNC focused on a linear cable network in a day and age where streaming, YouTube, podcasts and social media are ascendant. Martin said it would have been smarter if they had started as a digital channel and invested in a handful of big names instead of running news throughout the day. The model they chose was simply too expensive, he said. And the average audience at any given time was fewer than 10,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.
Even in the best of times in the 1980s and 1990s, it typically took several years and hundreds of millions of dollars to create a viable cable network, Martin added.
BNC was also saddled with a class-action discrimination lawsuit filed by former and current female employees.
The short life of Black News Channel
Launch of a new Black news network first announced after years of planning and development by former Congressman J.C. Watts.
February 10, 2020
After several delays, network officially launches with principal investment from Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.
Former CNN executive Princell Hair named president and CEO of Black News Channel.
BNC revamps prime time lineup with talk focus and adds progressive black commentators
Hair announces plan to move network headquarters from Tallahasee, Fla. to Atlanta
Network announces layoffs a week before Christmas
13 current and former female employees file a class action lawsuit, claiming gender discrimination.
March 25, 2022
Reports emerge that the network would shut down after Khan pulled his funding