Florida A&M University‘s Board of Trustees has signed off on an 11-year partnership with former Rep. J.C. Watts to help produce a 24-hour, multi-platform Black Television News Channel.
The unprecedented joint venture was initially announced by Watts six years ago, but will be officially celebrated at a signing ceremony scheduled this Friday on FAMU’s campus. According to Frank Watson, vice president and general manager, the new network plans 50 full and part-time journalism jobs, with internships for students, a bureau in Washington and hopes to branch out to other historically black colleges and universities.
Reports the Maynard Institute:
“The network will serve as an economic powerhouse for FAMU and the North Florida region, as the Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis reports that BTNC is slated to generate $33.6 million in economic stimulus annually. The Center also reports that the establishment of BTNC on campus will initially create at least 117 new jobs and 226 jobs in total, which translates to 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 renovating, upgrading and installing equipment in the SJGC building, with a total price tag of $10 million.”
It also said, “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.”
While invaluable work and real-world opportunities will be afforded to students, the news will be delivered by professionals. The network is working toward delivering news initially from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by three one-hour blocks of news and news-related programming.