Comcast Corp, the leading U.S. cable company, is launching four new minority-owned cable networks with partners including former basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson, hip-hop mogul Sean Diddy Combs and Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez.
The new networks come out of Comcast's agreement with regulators to create 10 new independently owned cable networks for minority populations in exchange for clearance of its acquisition of a controlling stake in NBC Universal.
As a result, four of the networks be majority African-American owned, two will be majority American Latino owned, two will be operated by American Latino programmers and two will provide additional independent programming. Comcast hopes to have the networks all launched over the next eight years.
Magic Johnson will partner with GMC TV to launch a network called Aspire aimed at African-American families with a mix of movies, documentaries and comedy among its programming formats. The channel is planned for this summer.
Combs' channel, Revolt, and MTV veteran Andy Schuon will focus on music and is planned for launch in 2013. Combs has also been in talks with other networks including Time Warner Cable Inc, the second-largest U.S. cable operator.
Rodriguez in partnership with FactoryMade Ventures has proposed a Hispanic channel called El Rey. The English-language channel is aimed at Latino and general audiences with a mix of reality, scripted and animated TV shows, movies and documentaries.
Another Hispanic channel, BabyFirst Americas, has been proposed by Spanish-language television veteran Constantino "Said" Schwarz and would be aimed at infants, very young children and their parents.
(Reporting By Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)