Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Black Family Channel Fades to Black


Atlanta's Black Family Channel, formerly known as the Major Broadcasting Cable >Network (MBC), is officially shutting down April 30th. Founded by famed attorney Willie Gary, one fifth of Jackson 5, Marlon Jackson, heavy-weight boxing champ Evander Holyfied, former baseball slugger, Cecil Fielder, and broadcast veteran, Alvin James, the network aimed at African-American families. After 8 years of existence it reached an audience of 18 million subscribers but was not able to obtain the satellite and cable distribution needed to keep it operating in the black.

In 2004, talented actor and director, Robert Townsend, was named the CEO and President of Production of the network. With the help of Townsend's expertise in television and filmmaking, the Black Family Channel developed many original programs including a nationwide talent search, The Urban Kids Block, and a one-hour drama series named Thug Angels. In a 2004 Press Release he stated

"African-Americans represent one of the largest television audiences, however, our plea to incorporate positive images and messaging continues to go unheard. Our mission is to reverse the current state of television."

Later that year, Black Family Channel named Managing Director of Vanguard Media Corp., Rick Newberger, as President and CEO.

For several years the network held the distinction of being the country's only minority-owned network committed to television programming geared toward the entire family. But when Cathy Hughes launched TV One in 2004, The Black Family lost that distinction. So how does BFC's closing affect the landscape of Black owned television networks and programming produced specifically for mature African-American audiences? Is it sign that our tv viewing habits have become so mainstream that networks like the Black Family Channel and TV-One are no longer in need? I hope not! But only time will tell.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Guess we're stuck now with just BET and TVOne. At least it shows black people can work together. 5 rich black men started the network. Too bad they couldn't keep it afloat.