BOT approves partnership with Black Television News Channel

A new course of study to partner with the  Black Television News Channel could begin as early as fall 2015.

The university board of trustees voted to authorize the interim president to enter into an agreement for a new course of study with the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication with BTNC on Wednesday.

The partnership will provide students the opportunity to gain internships and learn how small businesses operate according to Carmichael Roberts, entrepreneur at North Bridge Venture Partners who spoke on behalf of BTNC.

“The deal will allow the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication to build up and almost catch up to what’s more state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure to what’s seen in the industry,” Roberts said.

Roberts said this opportunity will allow students to be trained for a career in this industry.

“The way Black Television News Channel views this is as an opportunity to create a feeding ground for people that they can hire to get the talent that they need,” Roberts said.

According to Ann Kimbrough, SJGC dean, Sony will pay for all of the equipment needed in the multi-million dollar project.

The university will receive $500,000 for the first five years as a benefit.

Trustee Narayan Persaud said he would have to see numeric figures for what the university would have to pay for this operation before voting to approve this program. He said that studies have shown that start-up businesses usually last five years, so the university should consider that in the 11-year partnership.

“I like the innovation,” Persaud said. “I was for it, [but] it might cost the university money that the university does not have in those first five years.”

Kimbrough said that students are ready to make a change, and the program is technology-driven. Students bring laptops and have smartphones in class and are eager to receive updated technology.

“We are looking out for the university, but more importantly, we are looking out for our students who have been waiting to move from analog to digital,” Kimbrough said. “The rest of the world is there, so we are moving there and this is how we move together.”

Steve Pruitt, founding partner of BTNC, is looking forward to working with the university. He said working with the university is beneficial.

“One of our founding principles that our company is organized around is the need to reach out and work with the HBCU community in a very aggressive way to help as we build to build the capacity within that community,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt said the company chose FAMU because it wants students to work with the station on a national and international level so students can have a competitive edge.

“We were looking for a project site that fits the ready-to-go status, and given where your current facilities are, we felt that they fit that build best,” Pruitt said. “Because of the quality of the school and the journalism program that you have here, we felt that we could reach in and put some of your students on the air nationwide and internationally a lot faster than some of the other schools.”

Kimbrough said this experience will be beneficial and rewarding to the university.

“This is a FAMU multi-disciplinary opportunity not only for our campus, for our alums, for our faculty and others,” she said. “This is not a singular opportunity. [BTNC] is an opportunity to educate along the way.”

Roberts said he doesn’t see why FAMU wouldn’t want to be a part of this opportunity.

“It makes good business sense for the university, and it doesn’t risk the brand but enhances the brand,” Roberts said.