Byron Allen in deal to purchase Black News Channel
Media mogul Byron Allen is purchasing the Black News Channel (BNC). It was revealed last week that his company, AMG, successfully outbid several other suitors for the bankrupt cable news network.
AMG’s $11 million bid was selected by the Florida bankruptcy judge overseeing the sale after BNC entered Chapter 11 a few months ago. Prior to entering bankruptcy, BNC reached 45 million homes thanks to distribution deals with DirecTV, Comcast, and Charter.
In a statement, Byron committed to getting BNC back on track and reaching 80 million homes by the end of this year saying, “Allen Media Group will deliver a best-in-class network to serve the underserved African-American community and the advertisers who want to reach this extremely valuable audience. Also, we appreciate the opportunity to provide cable operators, satellite companies, telcos, and digital platforms diversity of ownership, voices, and viewpoints on their programming lineups by having a 100 percent African-American-owned network.”
BNC had previously been owned by billionaire NFL owner, Shahid Khan who reportedly poured over $100 million into the network since its launch in 2020. Under Allen’s leadership, BNC will be Black-owned, which was a frequent criticism of those questioning Khan’s commitment to a Black news network.
Allen runs his empire through a holding company called Allen Media Group, LLC (AMG), which he launched in 1993. A stand-up comic early in life, Allen left that behind and has amassed an impressive media portfolio via AMG and Entertainment Studios Networks, including The Weather Channel, the Grio, and Grio.TV, Sports.TV and HBCUGO.TV.
Allen is often described as the “under-the-radar media mogul” with many saying he is sure to succeed with his decades of Black media experience, whereas the Khan-backed venture failed.
Allen Media Group has acquired 27 network affiliate broadcast stations in 21 U.S. markets. By the late 1990s, he was one of the largest independent television producers in America with an empire that was generating $100 million per year in revenue.
AMG also owns one of the largest portfolios of cable television networks in the entertainment business. His portfolio includes around two dozen CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC network affiliate TV stations and a dozen 24-hour HD streaming networks, including Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV, Cars.TV, ES.TV, and MyDestination.TV.
In 2018 AMG paid $300 million to acquire The Weather Channel television network (not the website or app, which are owned by IBM). In 2020, AMG and Sinclair Broadcast Group partnered in acquiring 21 regional sports networks from Walt Disney/Fox. The acquisition price was $10.6 billion.
Allen spoke with Cable-Fax about the purchase and attributes BNC’s failure to cable carriers like Comcast, Charter, and Verizon refusing to give Black News Channel any “sub fees,” which are given to more popular cable channels like TBS, ESPN, and USA Network.
Said Allen, “If you really want something to succeed and you don’t want to find it in bankruptcy, and they’re pink slipping 300 Black journalists, yeah, there should have been some sub fees.” Allen told CableFax, “This is the reason I sued the cable industry before for $40 billion. Are you serious?”
When BNC stopped production in March, it had reached its highest viewership since launching in 2020 and was providing space for a wider range of Black voices with key perspectives representative of the Black experience.
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) congratulated Allen “for stepping up to the plate.” The NABJ had previously intervened at a few points on behalf of employees of the Black News Channel who endured the outlet’s financial trouble, allegations of harassment, and racial discrimination.