By Ayana Jones, Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune –
Comcast Corporation has announced agreements with four new minority-owned independent networks.
After evaluating more than 100 proposals, Comcast selected four networks — two of which are majority African American-owned, and two that are majority Hispanic American-owned and operated and programmed in English. The networks will be distributed on Comcast Cable systems between April 2012 and January 2014.
“We are thrilled to work with such talented individuals to launch these new networks that will bring exciting and fresh content to consumers,” said David L. Cohen, executive vice president, Comcast Corporation.
“Comcast is committed to delivering programming that reflects the interests of our customers, and we look forward to integrating these great networks into our rich programming lineup.”
The two networks in the African-American category are Aspire and REVOLT.
Spearheaded by NBA Hall of Famer and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson in partnership with GMC TV, Aspire will deliver enlightening, entertaining and positive programming to African-American families, including movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, visual and performing arts, and faith and inspirational programs. The network will launch by summer 2012.
“Aspire will be a network that encourages and challenges African Americans to reach for their dreams and will appeal to all generations,” said Johnson.
“Aspire will celebrate our heritage, our groundbreaking achievements and the fearless talent that has shaped American culture. I’m most excited about Aspire creating opportunities for the new voices, new visions and the next generation of storytellers.”
Proposed by superstar entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs and MTV veteran Andy Schuon, the REVOLT network is designed to have programming inspired by music and pop culture. The network, which launches in 2013, will include music videos, live performances, and music news and interviews, and will incorporate social media interaction for music artists and fans.
“REVOLT is the first channel created entirely from the ground up in this new era of social media,” said Combs.
“We’re building this platform for artists to reach an extraordinary number of people in a completely different way. REVOLT will be live, like all great moments in television history. REVOLT will also be immediate, like today’s social networks. We know it was a highly competitive process and we want to thank Comcast for this opportunity to truly change television with REVOLT.”
The two networks in the Hispanic category are El Rey and BabyFirst Americas.
Proposed by Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, El Ray is designed to be an action-packed, general information network in English for Latino and general audiences that includes a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy and sports programming.
The El Ray network will include programming that features Hispanic producers, celebrities and public figures. The network has entered into an agreement to launch by January 2014.
“This partnership with Comcast signals an important moment for the Latino community in this country — we are passionate about creating a wildly entertaining destination that we can be proud of by appealing to both Latino and mass market audiences,” said the principals of El Rey.
“We are engineering El Rey to address a burgeoning opportunity to deliver unique, high-quality and compelling content to a hard-to-reach demographic, and are excited to bring more opportunities to generations of talent, storytellers and dreamers through this special partnership.”
Proposed by Spanish language television veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz, this network is designed for infants, very young children and their parents and emphasizes the importance of early development of verbal, math and motor skills. The network will launch by April 2012.
“We are thrilled to partner with Comcast and commend them for recognizing the importance of quality education for young children,” said Schwarz.
“BabyFirst Americas aims to bring the essential academic building blocks for kindergarten readiness into the home, making it accessible for families all across the U.S.
In 2011, Comcast made a series of public interest commitments in connection with the NBCUniversal transaction, one of which is to launch 10 new independently owned and operated networks over the next eight years.
Of the 10 channels, four will be majority African American-owned, two will be majority Hispanic-owned and two will be operated by American Latino programmers. These criteria were established based on several agreements Comcast entered into with leading diversity organizations.
Each of the 10 networks will be added on select Comcast systems as part of the digital tier of service.