A group of investors including former FCC Commissioner
Tyrone Brown, TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson, syndicated columnist Clarence
Page and former GE and NBC exec Paul Besson, are backing the launch of a new nonfiction programming based African
American-targeted cable and satellite net, the Black Heritage Network.
According to former WUSA-TV GM Richard Reingold, who will be
CEO of the new net, BHN is in "serious" talks with the major
distributors and expects to have about seven million subs at launch, which is
targeted for December of this year.
One series already in the works is Basketballs' Best in cooperation with the NBA. "We have the
strong support of [NBA] Commissioner David Stern," said Reingold. It also
has a licensing agreement with CBS News. "We have access to a large
portion of the CBS News library," he says, but it will also put that
content in context with updated commentary. "So, if it is the march on Washington
somebody knows what was going on in America
in 1963." BHN is branding the content as "life in the moment."
The network will combine original programs with updated
"classic material," all of it reality and/or history programming rather
than scripted--it will have some "classic movies" with "cultural
relevance." Reingold describes it as a mix of Discovery and History
Channel targeted at a "slightly older, educated, affluent audience"
than its competition." He calls its target the upper end of the 25-54
African demo and 50-plus, which he says is where the money is.
Unlike the just-launched Bounce TV, the network will is
targeted at cable and satellite operators rather than digital multicast
channels, says Reingold.
TV producer Charles Grinker is co-founder and creative
director; Genia Edelman formerly of the Gospel Music Channel, will be senior VP
of national distribution; and Tony Ducret will be director of programming and
Reingold likened the channel to Fox News, but only in the
sense that it is targeting an audience he thinks is not currently being served.