Byron Allen’s company planning to buy Black News Channel for $11 million

Allen also owns the Weather Channel, based in Atlanta.

Credit: Ryon Horne

Credit: Ryon Horne

The Black News Channel, which filed for bankruptcy protection a few months ago and laid off most of its employees, is close to being purchased by Byron Allen’s media group Entertainment Studio Networks for $11 million, according to CableFax.

Allen was the only bidder for the assets set by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida. The Black News Channel was headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, until operations largely shut down in March. Majority stakeholder and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan had invested more than $100 million into BNC, but audience and revenues failed to meet the company’s hefty cost structure.

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday morning to make the deal official. (UPDATE: The deal was finalized Tuesday and officially announced noon Wednesday.)

At the time the Black News Channel closed down, several dozen of its employees were based in Atlanta, most notably its morning co-anchor Sharon Reed, formerly of CBS46.

Allen, who is based in Los Angeles, owns a production company, TV stations and several cable networks, most notably Atlanta-based Weather Channel, which he purchased in 2018 for $300 million.

Princell Hair, who ran Black News Channel under Khan, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2021 that he was planning to move headquarters to Atlanta. A spokesman for Allen’s company Monday declined to comment about where the Black News Channel will be based once it takes over.

Allen spoke with CableFax about the purchase, saying the network failed in part because cable carriers like Comcast, Charter and Verizon refused to give Black News Channel any “sub fees,” which are given to more popular cable channels like TBS, ESPN and USA Network. New cable networks don’t usually receive such money until they generate enough audience. The Black News Channel’s ratings were tiny, though they did pick up during the Derek Chauvin trial.

“If you really want something to succeed and you don’t want to find it in bankruptcy, and they’re pink slipping 300 Black journalists, yeah, there should have been some sub fees,” Allen told CableFax. “This is the reason I sued the cable industry before for $40 billion. Are you serious? You’re going to pay anywhere from $1-$2 [per subscriber] for other cable networks, but zero for the Black News Channel?”

He also was disappointed that the ad community failed to bolster the network. Non-direct response ad dollars, he said, were less than $2 million for its last 12 months of operation.