Black News Channel, the Florida-based TV news service whose majority stakeholder is Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, is shutting down. The company announced the news of its shut down on Friday shortly after telling employees that their paychecks would be delayed, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Black News Channel, which aimed to provide a platform that would serve as a voice for Black people, reached more than 50 million cable and satellite households. The station averaged an audience of about 10,000 viewers. However, those numbers weren’t enough to keep the company going.
BNC also faced a class-action lawsuit from former and current female employees who said they were being paid less than their male counterparts. Additionally, the company faced scrutiny for touting several programs with a conservative angle.
Employees were outraged when they learned that the company wouldn’t be able to meet payroll on Friday. Some of the employees, according to The Times, left larger companies to work for BNC, expecting to provide service for a more diverse audience.
According to The Wrap, one employee said the company executives contacted individuals by phone to on Friday to inform them that they were being let go.
“I’m disappointed in the way management handled the situation and their lack of transparency,” the staffer told TheWrap. “I’m saddened because there are so many amazing journalists who care about Black and Brown stories and truly believed in the concept. Now with no notice, their lives and livelihoods are in limbo.”
The calls came after the human resources department sent out an email to employees, saying they would not be paid on Friday.
“The March 25 payroll deposit will be delayed. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” the email stated. “We are actively working to resolve this matter quickly, and will advise you with an update as soon as possible.”
The National Association of Black Journalists released a statement Friday, saying the organization is trying to help BNC employees affected by the shutdown.
“NABJ is exploring ways to assist our members impacted by the closing. We encourage members to explore job opportunities across the industry through our NABJ Career Center at NABJCareers.org and sign up for our specialty databases,” the organization stated.
The staffers at BNC included prominent journalists Sharon Reed, Mike Hill, Marc Lamont Hill and Charles Blow.