Black News Channel forced to shutter after not making payroll, 200+ employees left without severance

The Black News Channel (BNC) suddenly shuttered operations Friday after an unexpected announcement from CEO Princell Hair left more than 200 employees out in the cold.

The Tallahassee, FL-based network was founded in 2020 by Jacksonville Jaguars owner and supporter of President Donald Trump, Shad Khan. Partnered with media executive Bob Brillante and former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK), the upstart network had a conservative slant that reached more than 50 million households, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hair, former head of CNN’s U.S. operations, joined the network in March 2021 and helped drive ratings up by bringing in high-profile commentators like Marc Lamont Hill. Despite these changes, the network struggled throughout the year to meet its financial obligations and had been laying off employees all year.

Friday afternoon, Hair issued a company-wide email to inform his staff that as of 5 pm they would be ending operations. The Tallahassee Democrat shared the email in its entirety.

Within, Hair noted the “groundbreaking mission to inject positive change into a news landscape that, for far too long, had underserved and overlooked Black and Brown people” that had begun during the pandemic and endured ups and downs. Citing “challenging market conditions and global financial pressure” Hair broke the news that the remaining 230 employees were out of work.

“It’s with a broken heart that I am letting you all know that, effective immediately, BNC will cease live production and file for bankruptcy,” Hair stated. “We are saddened and disappointed by this reality and recognize the stress that this puts on you and your families.”

Those 230 employees were already shaken by news from the day prior that the media company was going to fail to meet payroll obligations for Friday when Hair revealed the situation was much worse.

The Times outlined that the benefits for BNC staff would only last through the following week and that there would be no severance package. The financial collapse of the network allegedly escalated after Khan decided he would no longer be willing to invest in the network that had experienced its best ratings this past week during the SCOTUS confirmation hearing of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The announcement surprised and infuriated many of the employees who had reportedly left larger, established networks to support BNC’s mission. Efforts to shop the network out to media companies garnered no results as Nielsen data reported the average audience throughout their history as only around 10,000 viewers.

With a staff comprised mostly of black employees, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has stepped up to support the workforce that found themselves so suddenly parted from their employment.

The organization that provides career services and advocacy for black journalists hopes to find a solution to provide three weeks of pay to the staff of 230 along with offering their services to help find them new employment opportunities.


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Kevin Haggerty


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