Black Family Channel Nears Deal with Gospel Music Channel

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Atlanta-based Black Family Channel is expected to end its run as a 24-hour channel once talks with Gospel Music Channel are finalized later this week.

The two parties are negotiating a deal in which BFC will yield its 16 million subscribers to 10 million-subscriber Gospel, along with its blessings, effectively ending its run as a linear cable channel as of April 30.

But BFC executives said the network will “not shut down operations,” although it’s unclear in what capacity it will exist.

BFC confirmed talks with Gospel but would not comment further. Gospel executives would not comment on the matter.

BFC -- co-owned by lawyer Willie Gary, former baseball star Cecil Fielder, entertainer Marlon Jackson, cable veteran Alvin James and former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield -- offered African-American-targeted, family-friendly programming, overseen by actor/producer Robert Townsend.

Despite its star power and its unique positioning -- along with BET and TV One -- as a national network targeting African-American audiences, BFC was unable to secure significant cable and satellite distribution to continue to fund the network, according to sources, thus leading to the Gospel negotiations.

If a deal is consummated, it’s unlikely that Gospel will absorb any content from BFC -- including such shows as Lisa Knight and the Roundtable, which recently won a NAMIC Vision Award from the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications for best children’s program -- according to sources.

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