Robinson to negotiate management agreement with Black Television News Channel

The Florida A&M Board of Trustees formally approved Interim President Larry Robinson to negotiate and enter into a management agreement with the Black Television News Channel, which would bring a 24-hour news channel to the university.

According to the company’s business plan, the program’s mission is to provide intelligent programming that is informative, educational, inspiring and empowering for its African-American audience.

Authorization to enter into a management agreement was approved by the board of trustees Wednesday after meeting with J.C. Watts Jr., chairman of J.C. Companies, and Ann Kimbrough, dean of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication.

Kimbrough said she is excited for the students.

“It’s not about me,” she said. “It’s all about the students. To bring in internships and provide trainings such as set design is something I’m really looking forward to.”

She plans to use the second print shop in SJGC as the central location for BTNC. The area is no longer used because the print sequence of journalism was discontinued.

Watts said the three critical pieces needed to move forward with the program is establishing the venue, budget and distribution.

“It’s kind of hard to do the funding and the distribution when you don’t have a venue,” he said. “Hopefully we can get the agreement voted on, so we can have one of the three legs in place, then be ready to turbo charge full speed ahead.”

Watts said he hopes to have these three components by mid-December and looks forward to launching BTNC in August 2014.

The program is set to have a direct impact on students by providing training needed upon graduation. Kimbrough mentioned using advertisers, completing in-house Saturday promotions and using worldwide branding opportunities.

Providing a venue to house the program is the only upfront investment required by FAMU. Sony has provided $9.5 million for facility upgrades.

Watts said he plans to use the top markets of Dish Network and Comcast for a 10-year engagement, plotting profits from subscribers three years after the program’s launch.

Ellen Robinson, a senior public relations student from Orlando, said students would be more prepared for the real world with the partnership.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity for current and future students for exposure to a real working news station,” Robinson said.