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Comcast to Launch Two New African-American Owned Channels by 2019

One month after announcing plans to launch two Hispanic-targeted networks in 2016, Comcast Cable on Thursday said it is accepting proposals for two African-American owned and independent networks it plans to launch in January 2019.

The new channels stem from a condition Comcast agreed to in its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, in which it agreed to launch eight minority-owned and operated channels. The two recently announced Hispanic-owned channels, Primo and Kids Central, will join four other networks launched in 2012 and 2013: kids-targeted BabyFirst Americas; music-themed service Revolt TV, founded by hip hop artist Sean “Diddy” Combs; African- American targeted entertainment network Aspire TV, led by NBA hall of famer Magic Johnson; and millennials-aimed El Rey Network, backed by producer and director Robert Rodriguez.

Criteria for the two new African-American owned networks include the network's content makeup and whether the network’s ownership and/or management groups are well established. The network choices could include and already launched service that may have existing or potential multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) distribution. Comcast will accept proposals for every major genre, including general entertainment, movies, music, kids, news, and sports, according to company officials.

“We are looking forward to receiving another round of great proposals as we begin the process to launch two more African American majority owned networks,” said Justin Smith,senior vice president of Content Acquisition for Comcast Cable.

Proposals for the two networks are due by March 15, 2017, and the two networks will be selected in the coming months, according to Comcast.

This story was edited to correct the launch date in the headline.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.