DuJuan McCoy, CEO and owner of Circle City Broadcasting, has teamed up with the Cox Media Group TV stations to launch the Multicultural News Network (MNN), a planned national network aiming to be “an unbiased national forum for the voices of America’s underserved multicultural communities.”
McCoy, targeting a launch in the second half of next year, declined to tip his hand on distribution partners until they are “firmed up,” he said, including whether cable operator Cox Communications would back the Cox Media effort. But he did say Cox Media is investing cash, as well as news bureaus and content, into the network.
He also said the proposal is already in front of “every MVPD in America” and that he has had offers. McCoy said he is seeking channel positions near those of the major news networks.
MNN already has competition for diverse eyeballs. Black News Channel launched last February and in July secured expanded carriage on Charter Communications cable systems. But while that channel is targeted to African-American communities, MNN is casting a wider net, including “Blacks, Hispanics, LGBTQ communities, Asians, Native Americans, people of Middle Eastern descent” and others.
‘Adding to the Party’
“The more diverse news sources in the game the better for the entire cause of giving people who typically don’t have a voice on a platform a voice,” McCoy said of entering the market after BNC. “I wouldn’t say ‘taking them on,’ I would say ‘adding to the party.’”
Plus, he said, the goal of what is essentially a broadly targeted yet niche network is to take on the likes of CNN and Fox News Channel, though with no left or right tilts.
The plan is for the network to air separate newscasts for different groups, McCoy said. “When we [produce]
news for LGBTQ,” for example, “they will know that this news is for me, about me, produced by me, and from my perspective, that’s why I want to listen.”
McCoy said the plans are for an LGBTQ news hour, a Middle Eastern hour, a Black hour, a women’s hour, an Hispanic hour. He said there will also be programming for a mix of cultures, but that each group will get an hour to have their stories told.
Bureaus will be set up in all of the major metro areas where either Cox Media or Circle City has stations, McCoy said. Each of those stations’ news departments will have a content-sharing partnership with MNN.
Cox has 33 TV stations in 20 markets, including Atlanta, Boston and Memphis, as well as a Cox Washington bureau McCoy said will be available to the network. Circle City has The CW affiliate WISH and MyNetworkTV affiliate WNDY, both in Indianapolis. McCoy said WISH currently produces more than 80 hours of local news a week, and points out he expanded news on his stations when he owned Bayou City Broadcasting and diversified those newsrooms to give a different perspective on the news, something he wants to do nationally with MNN.
Dom Caristi, a telecommunications professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, volunteered that creating MNN from already existing facilities in Indianapolis was brilliant.“By using a lot of infrastructure that already exists (like TV stations across the country), MNN should be able to hit the ground running sooner than a startup that would have to start from scratch,” he said in a statement.
“While I don’t know the specifics of the business, there should be multiple opportunities,” Caristi told Multichannel News. “Just like CNN did when it was starting out, MNN will be able to function simultaneously as a standalone network and as a content provider for partner stations across the country. The prospects are bright.”
The launch comes amidst a national reckoning about the country’s historic treatment of Blacks and other minorities and how that inequality needs to be addressed, but McCoy said the network has been in the works for a couple of years. He said he was already getting traction on distribution when he had to turn his focus to negotiating deals, first to divest his Bayou TV stations to Byron Allen in 2019 then to buy WISH from Nexstar Media Group.
Home Base in Indy
The network will be based in Indianapolis, co-located with WISH. McCoy will be chairman and CEO of the network. He said he will be the hands-on network head and hopes to do for his hometown of Indianapolis what CNN did for Atlanta.
McCoy suggested his goal is no less than being the first person of color who both understood and had experience in the news business and the ability to launch and run a news network, and to have the power of a Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch to launch such a network. “Hopefully I can become the first person to do that,” he said.
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