While there are several Hispanic broadcast and cable networks, "African
Americans are underserved in this space," said Alfred Liggins, CEO of radio
group Radio One Inc. "They are the single largest minority group and there's
only one service for them."
Not anymore. Black Entertainment Television has been the main cable offering for African Americans, but
now Comcast Corp., the country's largest MSO, and minority-owned Radio One are
setting out their own cable channel for black adults.
Their new, unnamed channel should debut in mid-2003 with entertainment, news
and sports-related shows for black adults 25 through 54.
Liggins will be chairman of the new channel.
Viacom Inc.-owned BET tends to draw a 18-through-34-year-old audience and
reaches about 77 million homes.
Radio One and Comcast each expect to own up to 40 percent in the
Over the next four years, Radio One will contribute around $70 million in
cash and Comcast and other unnamed partners will invest about $60 million.
expected to personally invest up to $10 million.
Comcast -- with a cable portfolio already including QVC, E! Entertainment
Television, The Golf Channel and Outdoor Life Network -- will provide digital carriage for
the new channel.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the network could be profitable sooner than
other start-ups, which he said tend to break even at 20 million to 25 million
"This will have the deep-pocketed funding," Roberts said.
"A lot of channels don't have that. And this will have anchor distribution
Comcast counts about 21 million subscribers, with about 32 percent digital
penetration, or 6.7 million digital homes, at the end of 2002.
As for programming, Liggins wouldn't reveal specific plans, but he did say some
Radio One personalities, like Steve Harvey, could appear on the new channel.
Radio One owns 66 radio stations in 22 urban markets.
The company also plans to use its radio stations to
promote the new channel and will offer radio-advertising time in exchange for