Black News Channel files for bankruptcy with up to $50 million in debt

Black News Channel — which shut down operations on Friday, just two years after making a splashy debut — has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Florida.

The Monday filing by the Tallahassee-based network showed that it had listed between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities and that it estimated that between 200 and 999 creditors owe money.

“They filed for bankruptcy faster than they paid their employees the money they’re owed,”On Tuesday, a former employee spoke out. “I received a partial payment this morning for two weeks of work. They still owe me for another week.”

The former staffer was also one of About 230Last Friday, the channel shut down operations.

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Former GOP congressman J.C. Watts founded the channel with veteran broadcast executive Bob Brillante. Their mission was to bring news to and about underserved communities. Brillante was fired in February 2020. Princell Hair became the CEO of BNC in the fall 2020. Hair added many hours of daily live programming and launched a short-lived streaming service. He also hired hundreds of employees.

Shad Khan (billionaire owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars) injected $50 million into the network and became principal investor. Insiders claimed that little of the money was used for marketing purposes despite the fact that it was infusioned. Instead, BNC’s management team looked to the media to get the word out, including the Tallahassee Democrat, which in September 2021 Publication of a profileHairstyles that include the headline “Black News Channel thriving under new President and CEO Princell Hair.”

Twelve weeks later — in December 2021 — the network began laying off dozens of employees.

BNC was also subject to a class-action lawsuit by 13 former or current female employees claiming discrimination and a lack of equal opportunity. “sexist”Workplace (executives deny the allegations).

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Nielsen ratings analysis of 124 cable news channels for 2021 found that BNC ranked 123rd with an average audience of 4,000 viewers per show. Fox News was the No. 1. With an average of 2.36 million primetime viewers every evening, Fox News was No.

Last Thursday, the network’s human resources department sent out an email saying employees would not be paid as scheduled the following day. “The March 25 payroll deposit will be delayed. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,”Nicole Collins, Human Resources VP, said this in a memo. “We are actively working to resolve this matter quickly, and will advise you with an update as soon as possible.”

BNC employees learned that the channel was ending its journey on March 25. Hair sent an email to staffers stating that he was discontinuing operations after employees were informed by phone. “saddened and disappointed.”

“During the past few months, we have endured very painful workforce reductions at all levels of the network as we worked to achieve our financial goal of a break-even business. This has forced all of you to do more with less, and your contributions have been remarkable,”Hair was mentioned in the memo that was obtained by “Unfortunately, due to challenging market conditions and global financial pressures, we have been unable to meet our financial goals, and the timeline afforded to us has run out.”

Pamela Chelin contributed this report.

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