Black News Channel shuts down days after hitting high ratings

The Black News Channel shut down on Friday after failing to fill its payroll and losing support from its main investor, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn.

NEW YORK — The Black News Channel has unplugged after the 2-year-old company failed to meet payrolls and lost support from its biggest investor.

Princell Hair, the company’s president and chief executive, told employees in a memo Friday that the news network was ceasing live production and filing for bankruptcy. BNC was available in some 50 million homes with cable and satellite but failed to attract many viewers.

The network, founded in 2020 by former GOP congressman JC Watts, hired more than 250 black reporters and production staff last year as part of a relaunch following an investment from Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shahid Kahn.

But he was constantly losing money, despite two rounds of layoffs, and Kahn decided to stop investing further. He is currently three weeks short of payroll, a company spokesperson said.

Hair, a former CNN executive, took over in the relaunch last year. BNC tapped contributors like New York Times columnist Charles Blow and commentator Marc Lamont Hill. Correspondents were stationed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The end came even as BNC recorded its biggest audience this week with its live coverage of the Judiciary Committee hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Hair said.

He told employees that their contributions had been outstanding, but “due to difficult market conditions and global financial pressures, we were unable to meet our financial targets and the time available to us has run out. “.

Establishing a network is especially difficult in an age when consumers have so many choices and many are cutting cable or satellite cords.

“Remember, we’ve built something big here,” Hair said in his note. “BNC, or something very close to it, will surely come back at some point, because the world needs it, and you all have proven that it can be done.”

News of BNC’s closure was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The National Association of Black Journalists said Friday it was looking for ways to help members who were laid off by the shutdown.