NUE, MBC Unveil Deals

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LOS ANGELES -A pair of start-up cable networks targeting African-American audiences announced programming and distribution advancements at the recent Western Show.

Major Broadcasting Cable Network said it would invest $100 million toward original programming over the next three years. And New Urban Entertainment Television announced an affiliation agreement with Cox Communications Inc.

MBC, the only fully owned and operated 24-hour African-American cable network, will look to create family-values programming targeted to the urban audience, said network founder and managing partner Alvin James, although he would not reveal specific network projects.

"Our financial commitment to original programming was made possible by the carriage commitments we have from seven of the top 10 MSOs, reaching 50 million households," he said. Currently, the network is in close to 5 million homes, James said.

Although it was fairly tight-lipped regarding its programming plans, MBC did announce that former pro basketball star Dennis Scott will become a minority investor in the service. Scott will also host a sports-related show set to launch sometime in 2001.

NUE, meanwhile, said its distribution deal with Cox would take effect immediately.

President and COO Robert Townsend said his urban-oriented network would launch in 500,000 of Cox's 6.2 million households within the next few months, although he would not reveal specific markets.

NUE is currently in 200,000 homes and expects to hit 13.5 million subscribers by the middle of next year, Townsend said.

The network also announced a programming acquisition agreement with Paramount Pictures for several sitcoms and feature films, including Goode Behavior, The Royal Family, 48 Hrs.
and Coming to America.
NUE also has affiliation agreements with AT&T Broadband and Time Warner Cable.

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