RLJ’s content mall concept


Robert Johnson has spelled out his plans for the Urban Television Venture which he’s trying to kick off in a unique partnership between his RLJ Companies and Ion Media Networks. He wishes to team up with content providers, advertisers and the interactive community for a “content mall.”

Johnson explains, “Think of this model as a creative television content mall where you find broad, mass-appeal content that serves as the anchor and niche’ programming that fills out the channel. Using this concept, our 24-hour continuous programming will be designed to attract creative entrepreneurs and to meet the interests and lifestyle of a variety of urban viewers.”

The internet connection would house interactive features, e-commerce opportunities and additional programming.

Johnson envisions a strong emphasis on news, public affairs, health and lifestyle programming, and also said he’s already reaching out to possible partners, including Ebony Magazine and musical artist Beyoncé Knowles.
“I have informed the entertainment community that if this is approved by the FCC, I will be able to provide distribution on Urban Television to provide them with another avenue to produce additional programs,” Johnson stated. “If Ebony magazine wants to create programming that is based on their magazine content, or Beyoncé wants to showcase her fashion clothing line and tie in an e-commerce link, I could provide her with a programming time slot and she can produce and own her program.”

Urban Television and Ion are attempting to become co-licensees of 42 Ion Media television stations, and are asking for FCC confirmation that as a co-licensee, Urban will have MVPD must-carry rights on a digital stream operating simultaneously with Ion’s main program stream. Ion also operates a children’s side channel and a health side channel.

RBR/TVBR observation: This proposal would certainly forward the FCC’s goal of ownership diversity. But cable interests are not likely to view this as a favorable development. The FCC as much as acknowledged the potential for major sparks by making a special announcement starting the 30-day petition to deny clock. Stay tuned.