Tallahassee, Fla. (WTXL) - After a long negotiation process, the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication has received approval from the FAMU Board of Trustees for an 11-year deal for the 24-hour, multi-platform news network.
The Black Television News Channel (BTNC) states in it's mission that it will strive to produce intelligent programming that is informative, educational, entertaining, inspiring and empowering to the black viewing audience.
The operations group for the network includes co-founding partners: former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts; Robert Brillante, a 30-year cable TV veteran and founder of Florida’s News Channel; Frank Watson, a 30-year broadcast industry veteran; former U.S. House of Representatives Budget Director Steve Pruitt and Evan Leo, one of Washington D.C.’s premier telecommunications and regulatory attorneys.
According to the BTNC executive summary, the partnership will fill a void left by 18 black-owned and operated full-power television networks that went dark during the last 20 years.
The network is expected to serve as an economic powerhouse for FAMU. According to the Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis, BTNC is expected to generate $33.6 million in economic stimulus annually. The Center also reports that the establishment of the channel on campus will initially create at 226 jobs and nearly $10.5 million in combined employee compensation and proprietary income.
The partnership also includes a promise by BTNC to return up to $500,000 annually to the university for the first three years of the network’s operation and $1 million for each of the seven years remaining in the contract. The first year of the partnership will be dedicated to $10 million of infrastructure improvements.
The contract positions FAMU to be on the cutting-edge when it comes to training future multimedia professionals, as the partnership names BTNC as an independent manager of the school’s course of study in network broadcasting and operations. FAMU students will have the opportunity to hone their crafts through first-hand learning experiences with the latest digital broadcasting technology and systems. Career counseling, internship opportunities and job placement are also keystones of the agreement.
SJGC Dean Ann Kimbrough, said the partnership with BTNC will be transformative for the university-at-large.
“This is not a singular opportunity. We see it as a multidisciplinary opportunity for our students, alumni and faculty,” said Kimbrough, who noted that the BTNC partnership would elevate the technical expertise of the school’s faculty and the university's ability to attract high-quality journalism students from around the globe.
SONY has also agreed to participate in the SJGC/BTNC partnership. The electronics giant will equip the SJCG building with a network operation center, additional studio facilities, teleport(s), mobile ENG infrastructure and an automated newsroom.
VisualiZation Real Time (VizRT), an international producer of content production equipment for digital media will outfit the production area with advanced virtual reality television production assets. Other BTNC partners include: WorldLink Ventures, a global leader in multi-platform sales and financial partners Inkbridge, LLC, Enterprise Florida and the City of Tallahassee Economic Development Council.