FAMU signs contract with Black Television News Channel

Construction for the $10 million state-of-the-art, multi-platform, 24-hour broadcast facility in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication will begin this summer, according to Ann Kimbrough.

The SJGC dean and other officials signed a contract with the Black Television News Channel this morning that will create an 11-year partnership with the 24-hour news station.

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

J.C. Watts, founder of the news channel, said this university is the best place for it.

“I don’t think we could have chosen a better partner in our efforts to create the first African-American news channel, a 24-hour news channel, than Florida A&M University,” Watts said.

This partnership will allow students and faculty access to the latest broadcast news technology, internships, mentorships and job placement opportunities with BTNC.

Dhyana Ziegler, a journalism professor, is working to develop a new digital media master’s program, so this partnership will enhance that experience.

“It is a staple in our quality of education that we provide for students,” Ziegler said. “It is an opportunity for us to take the School of Journalism to the next level.

“We will have the opportunity to train not only great journalists but managers of news. We will be able to give that classic education with the best technology in the world.”

BTNC will hire professional journalists, sales staff and other experts for this partnership to come to fruition.

According to the BTNC website,the company is projected to create $33.6 million in economic stimulus annually and will initially create more than 117 new jobs.

The partnership will also provide up to $8.5 million to the university over the course of the agreement.

FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson said this is a huge opportunity that will impact the community.

“The Black Television News Channel is a job creator,” Robinson said. “We are extremely excited that you chose FAMU to be a part of this remarkable endeavor.”

The BTNC is seeking New Market Tax Credit to assist in the launch of this project, according to a release from Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.

SJGC students are optimistic about the news channel being housed here.

Anae Jackson, a senior broadcast journalism student from Miami, is eager to see the construction begin.

“This is a great opportunity for our university,” Jackson said. “This lets companies know that FAMU is more than qualified of producing exceptional students for the job market.”  

Jackson also said the news channel will be her source for positive news for people of color.

Stedmond Perkins, a senior public relations student from Fort Lauderdale, believes this partnership will bring FAMU to new heights.

“It makes FAMU look 10 times better,” Perkins said. “We deserve it because we are one of the top journalism schools in the nation. I feel like we can compete with PWIs (predominantly white institutions) now.”

The news channel will air in early 2015, according to Watts.