FAMU And Minority News Network Sign 11-Year Agreement

Mar 21, 2014

Interim President Larry Robinson signs deal with BTNC.
Credit Florida A&M University

A new 24-hour news network targeting a national African-American audience is coming to Tallahassee after partnering with Florida A&M University

A signing ceremony Friday morning at FAMU marks the beginning of an 11-year partnership between the school and the Black Television News Channel. It will be housed in FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Design. Though many minority networks struggle for revenue, BTNC co-founder Robert Brillante maintains his channel has a significant advantage.

“The real advantage that we have is that we have the support of Dish Network, Direct TV, and Comcast to provide distribution of the network. That’s the key to success,” Brillante says.

Brillante, who headed a regional cable news network for five years, says the company has secured private investment to help broadcast its programming. They have a deal with Comcast and are working on a renewal with Dish network, but individual markets have yet to be selected. BTNC will air live news from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by commentary programs until 9 p.m. But University of Florida Telecommunication Department Chair David Ostroff says despite BTNC’s credibility, the channel still has to draw viewers away from their regular programs.

“I think they face the same challenges of any new program provider of getting carriage, which they’re moving towards, but then also of getting an audience,” he said.

The network does not have established TV personalities to attract target viewers, but still has a year until the launch to find them.

The partnership agreement grants students access to internships and job placement opportunities. The school projects to earn up to $8.5 million from the network over the length of the contract.