Seeking to serve what it believes is an underserved marketplace,
minority-owned radio broadcasting company Radio One Inc. and Comcast Corp.
announced Monday that they will launch an African-American-targeted
digital-cable network by mid-2003.
The as-yet-unnamed channel will target the 25-through-54 demographic, Radio
One CEO Alfred Liggins said. The service will be an entertainment-focused,
general-interest channel with a mix of original and acquired programming, but no
further details were revealed.
Comcast didn't spell out how much carriage it would provide the new service.
Radio One said it hadn't reached any carriage deals with other operators.
Comcast and Radio One will equally hold less than a 40 percent share each in
the network, with Radio One contributing up to $70 million over a four-year
period, while $60 million will come from Comcast and other undetermined
investors, Liggins added.
Radio One expects the network to break even somewhere toward the end of its
third year or the beginning of its fourth.
"We're optimistic that we can do better than many other networks starting out
because we have advantages that others haven't had in the past," Liggins
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the network will join the slate of other
Comcast-owned networks such as E! Entertainment Television, G4 and The Golf
"We've had success in incubating new cable channels over the past decade, and
we hope today's announcement will be met with similar success several years from
now," Roberts said.
Liggins said the network does not consider itself a competitor to Black
Entertainment Television, but industry observers are already pitting the network
against the 22-year-old entertainment channel.
In a prepared statement, BET chief operating officer Debra Lee said, "The
idea of launching another cable-channel option targeting African Americans -- or
somehow competing with BET, for that matter -- is not new. One such venture
recently shut down its operation, while another is still trying to survive."
She was apparently referring to the now defunct NUE-TV -- in which Radio One
held a minority interest -- and Atlanta-based Major Broadcasting Corp.
"BET recognized more than 22 years ago the importance of the African-American
audience, and it has been very successful at delivering the kind of music,
entertainment, news, sports, documentaries, cinema and specials African
Americans want to see," she added.