African-American-owned broadcaster Radio One Inc. is close to making an "major" investment in beleaguered New Urban Entertainment Television network (NUE-TV).
NUE-TV, which has severely curtailed its business operations, has been seeking $10 million to $20 million to keep itself up and running. The African-American targeted service is currently in fewer than 10 million homes, with distribution deals with AT&T Broadband, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications Inc. that could put it before 13.5 million subscribers this year.
Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins said his company is "strongly considering" a major investment in NUE, but would not reveal specific details. He added that founder and CEO Dennis Brownlee is still running the network, which has abandoned its former offices in Chevy Chase, Md.
Radio One, which owns or operates 63 radio stations in 22 markets — 34 of which are in 14 of the top 20 African-American radio markets — had already invested in NUE.
Other NUE investors include music mogul Quincy Jones, veteran cable executive Leo J. Hindery Jr., Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., SFX Entertainment Inc. and Prudential Insurance Co. of America.
"I hope over time it makes it, because I think its important for the country, and for the African-American community in the United States," said Hindery, now the CEO of Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES), the planned New York-area regional sports network. "Alfred Liggins at Radio One is really taking the lead on this one, and I pray to God he pulls it off. If I lose money on it, I don't care that much, because it was worth trying for."
But NUE has not added any significant new programming for months, and currently has very little staff to speak of. It laid off nearly all of its executives last June. Only a handful, including president Robert Townsend and founder Brownlee, remain from a staff of about 60 as recently as January.
Last April, the network had pared half of its staff, mostly from the programming and production areas.