Comcast, the country's largest cable company, announced Tuesday it will carry new channels from Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Robert Rodriguez, and Spanish language TV veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz.
The four channels were selected by the nation's largest cable company after it promised to carry more minority-owned channels as it sought federal approval for its majority acquisition of NBCUniversal. After reviewing more than 100 proposals, the company opted to air channels by some of the best-known people in entertainment as they seek to give voice to often-underrepresented audiences.
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Johnson's channel, Aspire, was created with GMC TV and will focus on programming that celebrates "the successes, achievements and accomplishments of the African-American community and create new opportunities for the next generation of African-American visionaries." The channel, which will debut this summer, fits into a similar niche as broadcast network Bounce TV, which launched last year.
Combs' Revolt will be a live music and news station inspired by the pace of social media. It is expected to debut next year.
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Revolt will be live, like all great moments in television history," Combs said in a statement. "Revolt will also be immediate, like today’s social networks. We know it was a highly competitive process and we want to thank Comcast for this opportunity to truly change television with Revolt."
Rodriguez's El Rey, which he proposed with FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, will be an "action-packed, general entertainment network in English for Latino and general audiences," according to Comcast. It will prominently feature Hispanic producers, celebrities and public figures, and is expected to launch by January 2014.
The first channel expected to launch is Schwarz's BabyFirst Americas. The network targeting infants, young children and their parents emphasizes verbal, math and motor skills. It is expected to air by this April.
Here's the release:
PHILADELPHIA, PA – February 21, 2012 – Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), one of the world’s leading media, entertainment and communications companies, today announced it has selected four new minority-owned independent networks to be broadly distributed on Comcast Cable systems between April 2012 and January 2014. After a thorough evaluation of more than 100 proposals, Comcast selected four networks ― two of which are majority African-American owned and two that are majority American Hispanic owned and operated and programmed in English.
“We are thrilled to work with such talented individuals to launch these new networks that will bring exciting and fresh content to consumers,” said David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation. “Comcast is committed to delivering programming that reflects the interests of our customers, and we look forward to integrating these great networks into our rich programming line-up.”
· Aspire: Spearheaded by Entrepreneur and NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, in partnership with GMC TV, Aspire is dedicated to delivering enlightening, entertaining and positive programming to African-Americans families, including movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, visual and performing arts, and faith and inspirational programs. Aspire will celebrate the successes, achievements and accomplishments of the African-American community and create new opportunities for the next generation of African-American visionaries. The network will launch by summer 2012.
“Aspire will be a network that encourages and challenges African-Americans to reach for their dreams and will appeal to all generations. Aspire will celebrate our heritage, our groundbreaking achievements and the fearless talent that has shaped American culture. I’m most excited about Aspire creating opportunities for the new voices, new visions and the next generation of storytellers,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
· REVOLT: Proposed by superstar and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs and MTV veteran Andy Schuon, this network is designed to have programming inspired by music and pop culture, including music videos, live performances, music news, and interviews and will incorporate social media interaction for music artists and fans. The network has entered into an agreement to launch in 2013.
“REVOLT is the first channel created entirely from the ground up in this new era of social media” said Sean “Diddy” Combs. “We’re building this platform for artists to reach an extraordinary number of people in a completely different way. REVOLT will be live, like all great moments in television history. REVOLT will also be immediate, like today’s social networks. We know it was a highly competitive process and we want to thank Comcast for this opportunity to truly change television with REVOLT.”
· El Rey: Proposed by legendary Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, this network is designed to be an action-packed, general entertainment network in English for Latino and general audiences that includes a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy, and sports programming. The El Rey network will include programming that features Hispanic producers, celebrities and public figures. The network has entered into an agreement to launch by January 2014.
"This partnership with Comcast signals an important moment for the Latino community in this country – we are passionate about creating a wildly entertaining destination that we can be proud of by appealing to both Latino and mass market audiences," said Robert Rodriguez and CEO of FactoryMade Ventures John Fogelman. "We engineered El Rey to address a burgeoning opportunity to deliver unique, high-quality and compelling content to a hard-to-reach demographic and are excited to bring more opportunities to generations of talent, storytellers and dreamers through this special partnership.”
· BabyFirst Americas: Proposed by Spanish language television veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz, this network is designed for infants, very young children, and their parents, and emphasizes the importance of early development of verbal, math and motor skills. The network has entered into an agreement to launch by April 2012.
“We are thrilled to partner with Comcast and commend them for recognizing the importance of quality education for young children,” remarked Constantino “Said” Schwarz, CEO and Chairman BabyFirst Americas. “BabyFirst Americas aims to bring the essential academic building blocks for Kindergarten readiness into the home, making it accessible for families all across the U.S.”
Comcast made a series of voluntary public interest commitments in connection with the NBCUniversal transaction, one of which is to launch 10 new independently owned and operated networks over the next eight years. Of the 10 networks, four will be majority African-American owned, two will be majority American Latino owned, two will be operated by American Latino programmers, and two will provide additional independent programming. Ultimately, each of the 10 networks will be added on select Comcast systems as part of the digital basic tier of service.