Channels of Diversity

Will new black networks, including two from Magic and Diddy, change how we're represented on TV?

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It's a hard question to answer, Jansen acknowledges. Maybe the powers that be decided that "those business models are too difficult, that those demographic targets are just watching general-market programming," he says. "But there's no question that the content is out there to build channels with."

Comcast is mainly presenting a platform to have these channels made, while the channel's owners ultimately decide the type of content to run on it. It's an opportunity to create networks that really cater to the community's needs, Watkins says. "Comcast giving us a couple of networks, it's no different from 40 acres and a mule," he says. "But you work with that 40 acres and you reinvest, buy yourself a 1,000 acres and buy a whole fleet of donkeys, and you grow from that. You don't want to remain a sharecropper for the rest of your life."

While Comcast touts its industry lead in matters of diversity, the new channels aren't entirely altruistic. Nothing says "return on investment" like catering to a community that will have an estimated $1.1 trillion worth of buying power by 2015. But whatever the reasons behind these new channels, we'll be watching.

Anthonia Akitunde is a freelance writer living in Queens, N.Y. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company and The Root DC. Follow her on Twitter.

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