Tallahassee Democrat: Black news channel to launch in 2018, organizers say
The Black Television News Channel is scheduled to be launched next February in its home inside the Florida A&M University School of Journalism & Graphic Communication.
The BTNC is being touted as the first 4K Ultra HD newsgathering and production infrastructure of its kind. It is expected to include a multi-million-dollar, media-training center for aspiring journalists.
According to a study by the Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis, the BTNC will generate more than 100 jobs in Tallahassee and more than $30 million annually in economic stimulus for the region.
In March 2014, the FAMU Board of Trustees unanimously approved the agreement with BTNC to establish a "Network Course of Study" that included substantial benefits to the university's promotion, recruitment, academic and student training programs. The BTNC and FAMU effort offers "substantial positives" to enhance the university's performance metrics as established by the Florida Board of Governors.
BTNC officials will also update the FAMU Board of Trustees and other higher education officials on its operations that include its content distribution contracts with Charter Communications, DirecTV and Dish Network. Sony is partnering with BTNC to provide equipment for its professional newsroom and to benefit students.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, FAMU alumnus and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson congratulated BTNC partners and owners, including former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts Jr. and former Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.
Lawson applauded the cultural and economic influence the network will have in Florida and across the U.S.
“Many of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus are excited about the opportunity we have here in bringing a news network to Florida A&M’s campus," said the freshman member of Congress."For the first time, people will be able to tune into the Black Television News Channel and watch what is happening in American through another dimension and another story. Where else better for it to start than here at FAMU?”
Watts, who is credited with being one of the visionaries behind the network, expressed gratitude for the unwavering support and advocacy of national leaders in developing the network, including U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, state legislators, staunch supporters in the media industry, and officials at the state and federal levels.
“We will honor the commitment you made to us,” Watts said. “We are honored to be a partner with FAMU leaders, students, faculty and staff in this effort.”
During the event, Byron Pitts, chief national correspondent and Nightline co-anchor at ABC News, announced that he will join BTNC as a contributor while continuing his role at ABC.
FAMU students are expected to benefit from multiple courses of study in network broadcasting, digital media, virtual reality, and operations. FAMU’s selection as the headquarters is a part of an 11-year agreement signed with BTNC in 2014.
"This partnership is not only unprecedented change, it's game changing," FAMU interim president Larry Robinson said. "I believe this partnership will be among those that will be chronicled in history in terms of allowing us to reach a larger spectrum of individuals to tell them more about their own culture and perspective that they can appreciate."
Along with Watts, Marks, and media veteran Bob Brillante, several national leaders in media and communications will provide executive leadership for the network. They include: Steve Pruitt, former executive vice president of the United Negro College Fund and budget director for the U.S. House of Representatives; Frank Watson, former CBS executive, who managed two CBS flagship stations—WCTV in Tallahassee and WINK-TV in South Florida; and Evan Leo, a partner with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evens and Figel Law Firm and one of Washington D.C’s premier telecommunications and regulatory attorneys.