MLK III & Andy Young Join Forces to Form New Black TV Network

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By fall 2011, Black television viewers won’t need cable to watch a station dedicated to broadcasting images of people that look like them; they’ll have Bounce TV.

The network, which will target Black audiences between the ages of 25 and 54, will broadcast an array of programming, including movies, live sporting events, documentaries, faith-based programs and original series all available on the digital signals of local television stations, the network’s organizers told reporters April 6.

Instead of being conveyed through cable or over satellite signals, Bounce will arrive over the airwaves, like TV was delivered before the explosion of technological choices.

“We are basically targeting the rabbit-ear consumer,” Ryan Glover, a former Turner Broadcasting executive and a member of the Bounce organizers, said, referring to the households that are not equipped with cable or satellite hardware and still rely on over-the-air television signals

Bounce TV’s founders, which include Martin Luther King III and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, announced the venture during a news conference April 4.

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"My father envisioned the day that African Americans would play major roles in entertainment within ownership, not just serve as entertainers on the stage or in front of the cameras,” King said in a statement. “That's what makes this even more exciting to me as we embark on this new endeavor of an independently owned and operated broadcast television network featuring African Americans.”

A promotional video on Bounce TV’s website contends that over 14 million African American households watch more TV than those in any other demographic, yet only two networks serve Black audiences. Latinos have over 80 channels.

“If African-Americans watch more TV than anyone else, why don’t we have more choices?” questioned Young, a businessman and minister who worked as a top aide to MLK Jr. during the civil rights movement, held elective office as mayor of Atlanta, Ga. and a member of the House of Representatives, and later served as U.N. ambassador during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. “Bounce will help meet that need.”

Young, King III and their partners have acquired television rights to nearly 400 prominent Black films, including Ray, Do The Right Thing, Car Wash, Boyz ‘n The Hood, Glory and A Raisin in the Sun. The deals–established separately with NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Codeblack Entertainment and Image Entertainment—will also allow the network to televise documentaries, stage plays and comedies featuring such figures as Jay-Z, Ruby Dee, Blair Underwood, Gabrielle Union, Katt Williams and Terry McMillan.

In a multi-year agreement with Urban Sports Entertainment Group, Bounce TV will also broadcast football and basketball games from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) conference including select quarter- and semi- final basketball tournament games.

Although the network will be based in Atlanta, Georgia, half of its advertisements will be for local merchants, they said.

Longtime media executives from major networks and independent ventures will join Bounce’s team including Rob Hardy and Will Packer, co-founders of the Black production company Rainforest Films; Jeffrey Wolf, former EVP of U.S. Syndication Sales for Sony Pictures; Ryan Glover and Jonathan Katz, former Turner Broadcasting executives.