TV Channel Shuts Down, Files for Bankruptcy

Black News Channel is no longer in existence. The channel, known simply as BNC, was founded by former GOP congressman J.C. Watts in conjunction with veteran broadcast executive Bob Brillante. The goal was to service underserved communities with quality news and content. But the company has ceased all operations after a difficult year, shutting down operations completely on Friday, March 25. Simultaneously, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Florida. The Tallahassee-based channel listed $10 million-$50 million in liabilities. Between 200 and 999 creditors are reportedly owed money, The Wrap reports.

Several employees took to social media to share the news. Derrick Q. Lewis, a reporter who previously worked for news stations in Florida and North Carolina, shared the news to his Facebook page. "My time at BNC has ended. The network ended operations today," he wrote on March 25 after rumbling about the company folding began spreading. "Most of you know my year at BNC was an interesting journey, traveling around the country to tell stories that mattered on a platform for us. I enjoyed every bit of it, but it took a lot of energy."

Just months after the launch in February 2020, Brillante was ousted. Princell Hair joined the company as CEO in the same fall. Under his leadership, he added several hours of daily live programming, launched a short-lived streaming channel, and hired hundreds of employees. Many believe the decision to add so much in such a short amount of time was the beginning of the end. 

The hiring spree came as Shad Khan, the billionaire owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, poured in a principal investment of $50 million dollars into the network. Despite the large sum of money, sources claim a minimal amount was set aside for marketing. Instead, they relied on media to promote it, including the Tallahassee Democrat, which in September 2021 published a profile of Hair. Major layoffs began in Dec. 2021.


"They filed for bankruptcy faster than they paid their employees the money they're owed," one former employee told TheWrap in a recent interview. "I received a partial payment this morning for two weeks of work. They still owe me for another week."