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Diddy and Magic Johnson Get their Own TV Networks

22 Feb


Two high net worth entertainment moguls struck a deal that will undoubtedly make the richer.

Comcast Corp. announced Tuesday that it would start carrying four new minority-owned networks – in partial fulfillment of a deal with regulators and minority groups that paved the way for the Philadelphia company to take over NBCUniversal last year.

The channels, backed by NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, superstar entertainer Sean “Diddy” Combs, and others, are scheduled to launch broadly on Comcast Cable systems between April and January 2014, Comcast said.

“I salute them for keeping their word,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of three African American leaders to sign an agreement on a wide range of minority issues with Comcast in December 2010. “I think they are living up to the memorandum of understanding,” Sharpton said in an interview Tuesday.

Comcast received more than 100 proposals, about 80 in the African American category and about 20 in the Hispanic American category, far more than expected, said David Jensen, Comcast vice president for content acquisition.

“What it really showed us is the tremendous pent-up demand . . . for programming shelf space,” from African Americans and Hispanic Americans, Jensen said. “These are two really underserved demographics.”

The company did not disclose a time frame for the networks’ launches to digital-basic customers in the Philadelphia market.

Comcast regularly comes under pressure to expand its cable lineup. Last week, 40 demonstrators descended on its headquarters to demand that it add Al-Jazeera English (AJE).

When Comcast took control of NBCUniversal in a $30 billion deal, it agreed to launch 10 new independently owned and operated networks over eight years, including four majority-owned by African Americans, two majority-owned by Latino Americans, two operated by American Latino programmers, and two that will provide additional independent programming.

The agreements called for Comcast, the nation’s largest cable firm with 22.3 million subscribers, to launch two African American channels and one Hispanic American channel starting this year.

Aspire, led by Magic Johnson, will have family programming and is scheduled to launch by this summer. The channel, based in Atlanta, is a partnership with family-friendly GMC TV. Johnson said in a news release that the new network would appeal to all generations.

Revolt, a music and news channel backed by Combs, also known as Diddy and P. Diddy, and former MTV programming chief Andy Shuon, is expected to launch next year. In its challenge to MTV and BET, Revolt is designed to incorporate the speed of social networking.

Source: Philly.com

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