First black news channel comes to FAMU’s SJGC

FAMU's School of Journalism and Graphic Communication will be the
future headquarters for BTNC.



FAMU, BTNC celebrate ribbon cutting.



Close to 200 students, alumni, faculty, staff and invited guests filled Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (FAMU SJGC) on Feb. 24 to mark an historic occasion and celebration: announcing the future headquarters for the nation’s first 24-hour black news channel.

A press conference, ribbon cutting ceremony and student media showcase was held to better acquaint FAMU’s SJGC with the representatives of the Black Television News Channel (BTNC), who have joined together to mark a huge milestone in the African-American community.

Former Tallahassee Mayor, John Marks attended the festivities and emphasized the significance of the partnership.

“This will take FAMU to another level,” Marks said. “This will make FAMU the premier HBCU in the world!”

The state-of-the-art facility will house two main studios: an active newsroom and multiple sets including a weather set, a café-style set for interviews and a virtual set using advanced technology from Sony.

FAMU President Larry Robinson said BTNC is going to be a “game-changer.” He added that it will allow students the opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced multimedia professionals.

“I am extremely delighted to be here this morning,” Robinson said. “I believe that this partnership will be among those that are chronicled in the history of partnerships when it comes to educational institutions – certainly in the HBCU community.”

The BTNC studio will be an open training facility, with mentor stations at the tip of students’ fingers, alongside equipment training, all used by media professionals.

“This will give students on-the-job training and give them experience behind the scenes,” said J.C. Watts, former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma and founder of BTNC.

Ensuring that students have nothing but the best training and equipment, BTNC will be the nation’s first 4k Ultra-HD production studio, with worldwide news gathering infrastructure. Sony serves as a major partner for BTNC in providing the equipment for the newsroom that will in-turn allow students to have first-hand access to the latest technology.

Students of FAMU’s School of Architecture, alongside Delvin Design Group, designed the blueprint for the BTNC studios. The engineering, broadcast engineering and building designs are underway and will continue through April. BTNC plans to air their first show in February 2018.  

BTNC representatives say the network will be the premier source of news information for African Americans.

BTNC Co-Founder and former owner of the Florida News Channel Robert Brillante said, “This is going to be our world operation center. Think of Tallahassee as an aggregation center for video.”

The network will provide more than 100 new jobs and is expected to reach as many as 33 million viewers nationwide. According to the Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis, BTNC will have more than a $30 million impact on the local economy.

“The financial impact – not only will it make on FAMU – but make on the Tallahassee community is very significant,” said U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Florida.

Nielsen reports that African Americans watch a reported 10 hours of television per week, more than any other ethnic group. However, they are one of the most underrepresented groups in the media.

State Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach said, “Through media, certain images shown aren’t always so positive. So, having the opportunity to control the conversation … I am very thankful.”

BTNC visionaries, Brillante and Watts, alongside many others have been working with the project for the past 13 years. In 2014, FAMU Board of Trustees approved the partnership with BTNC.

“BTNC will be our ‘teaching hospital.’ This partnership will give our students the internships they need to lead to future jobs,” said FAMU SJGC Dean Ann Kimbrough. “We are humbled and proud to house such an historic network.”

SJGC graduate, and former editor-in-chief of the FAMUAN, Reggie Mizell said, “I believe BTNC is a great-progressive step for the School of Journalism. It’s enhancing the multimedia aspect of what this world of broadcast journalism is really about.”

Brillante said that the vision for BTNC is to shape future, budding journalists.

“This is going to be revolutionizing the way we train the next generation of aspiring young journalists,” he said. “There’s no better place than to have the network right here on the campus of Florida A&M University.”

For more information about BTNC, call (877) 469-2862