- - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comcast planning launch of minority-owned networks

Comcast will launch four minority-owned networks on its cable-TV systems in the next two years, including channels spearheaded by music mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and NBA great Magic Johnson, the Associated Press reports.

Two of the networks are majority black-owned while two are majority American-Hispanic-owned, with all of them programming in English, the Philadelphia-based Comcast said.

It was unclear how much of an on-camera role, if any, Mr. Combs and Mr. Johnson might play on their respective network.

The new channels, which in all will total 10 rolling out in the next eight years, are part of an agreement reached by Comcast with the FCC and Department of Justice when it was allowed to become majority owner of NBCUniversal.

The networks announced Tuesday include:

• Revolt, conceived by Mr. Combs and MTV veteran Andy Schuon, will have programming that includes music videos, live performances, music news and interviews. It is scheduled to launch in 2013.

• Aspire, to be led by Mr. Johnson in partnership with family-oriented channel GMC TV, will dedicate itself to enlightening and positive programming aimed at black families. It will air movies, documentaries, music and comedy, as well as faith and inspirational programs. It will launch this summer.

• El Rey, proposed by Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, is designed to be an action-packed, general entertainment network for Latino and general audiences. The programming mix will include reality, scripted and animated series, and will feature Hispanic producers, celebrities and public figures. El Rey is scheduled to debut by January 2014.

• BabyFirst Americas, from Spanish-language TV veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz, is designed for infants and very young children, as well as their parents. It will emphasize the importance of early development of verbal, math and motor skills, the network said. The first of the networks to arrive, it is planned to be on the air this April.

These four networks, and the six others yet to be announced, are being chosen from more than 100 proposals, Comcast said. Each will be added as part of Comcast’s digital basic tier of service.

The company, which is the nation’s largest cable TV provider, did not mention in its announcement other cable systems planning to carry the new networks.

Netflix, Weinstein deal to include ‘The Artist’

Netflix says it will stream certain movies from the Weinstein Co., including “The Artist,” under an exclusive licensing agreement.

The companies say their multiyear agreement will cover foreign-language movies, documentaries and some other films in the Weinstein vault and make them available for instant viewing on Netflix.

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