By Stacy M. Brown
The Black News Channel, which launched just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, reportedly has ceased operations.
The Tallahassee, Fla.-based outlet, whose majority stake-holder is Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, failed to meet payroll Friday after telling employees that paychecks would be delayed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Black News Channel reporteda staff of 230, and some current and former employees had previously filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the network that remains pending.
Citing people briefed on the matter, the Times reported Khan would no longer invest in the operations of BNC after shopping the channel to several media companies, including Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios.
Reportedly, Khan found no interest.
Before the Times report, veteran journalist Roland Martin broke the information that BNC failed to pay its employees this week.
Martin, the host of “Roland Martin Unfiltered” and owner of the Black Star Network, tweeted a memo written by BNC Human Resources Vice President Nicole Collins. The memo, dated Friday, informed the staff that payroll “would be delayed.”
“We are actively working to resolve this matter quickly and will advise you with an update as soon as possible,” Collins wrote.
Staffers “are angry and demanding answers,” Martin tweeted. “I have been inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails from staffers on this issue.”
The media mogul said he spoke to BNC’s CEO Princell Hair, who advised that he’s working on getting employees paid.
However, Martin claimed staffers had been “left in the dark.”
The concept of the Black News Channel began with former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma Republican who brought in a group of initial investors.
After at least two delays, the channel finally launched after Khan kicked in $50 million and took the reins as majority share-holder. In much of its first year, BNC filled its website from content provided by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of the Black Press of America.
NNPA President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. frequently appeared on the channel providing commentary on various news topics.