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Black News Channel shuts down days after ratings high

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Black News Channel has pulled the plug after the 2-year-old venture failed to meet payroll and lost the backing of its biggest investor.

Princell Hair, the company’s president and CEO, told employees Friday in a memo that the news network was ceasing live production and would file for bankruptcy. BNC was available in some 50 million homes with cable and satellite but had failed to attract many viewers.

The network, founded in 2020 by former GOP congressman J.C. Watts, hired more than 250 Black journalists and production personnel last year in a relaunch following an investment by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.

But it was consistently losing money, despite two rounds of layoffs, and Khan decided to stop investing in it further. It is currently three weeks short of payroll, a company spokesman said.

Hair, a former CNN executive, took over in the relaunch last year. BNC brought on contributors like Charles Blow, columnist at The New York Times, and commentator Marc Lamont Hill. Correspondents were stationed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The end came even as BNC recorded its biggest audience ever this week with its live coverage of the Judiciary Committee hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Hair said.

He told employees that their contributions had been remarkable, but “due to challenging market conditions and global financial pressures, we have been unable to meet our financial goals, and the timeline afforded to us has run out.”

Establishing a network is particularly tough at a time when consumers have so many choices and many are cutting cable or satellite cords.

“Remember that we built something great here,” Hair said in his memo. “BNC, or something very close to it, will surely return at some point, because the world needs it, and all of you have proven it can be done.”

News of BNC’s shutdown was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The National Association of Black Journalists said Friday that it was looking at ways to help members that were thrown out of work by the shutdown.

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Business

JetBlue Agrees to Buy Spirit for $3.8 Billion

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FILE - A Spirit Airlines jet approaches Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pa., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Spirit announced on Thursday, July 7, 2022, that it would again postpone a vote on the proposed merger with Frontier, a sign that it lacks shareholder support for the merger in the face of a rival bid by JetBlue Airways. Spirit delayed the vote by a week, until July 15. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

NEW YORK, N.Y. (AP) — JetBlue has agreed to buy Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion in a deal that would create the nation’s fifth largest airline if approved by U.S. regulators.

The agreement Thursday comes a day after Spirit’s attempt to merge with Frontier Airlines fell apart. Spirit had recommended its shareholders approve a lower offer from Frontier, saying that antitrust regulators are more likely to reject the bid from JetBlue.

“This combination is an exciting opportunity to diversify and expand our network, add jobs and new possibilities for crewmembers, and expand our platform for profitable growth.” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement.

The combined airline, which will be based in New York and led by Hayes, would have a fleet of 458 aircraft. The airlines will continue to operate independently until after the transaction closes.

JetBlue said Thursday that it would pay $33.50 per share in cash for Spirit, including a prepayment of $2.50 per share in cash payable once Spirit stockholders approve the transaction. There’s also a ticking fee of 10 cents per month starting in January 2023 through closing.

If the transaction is completed before December 2023, the deal will be for $33.50 per share, increasing over time to up to $34.15 per share, in the event the transaction closes at the outside date in July 2024.

If the deal doesn’t close due to antitrust reasons, JetBlue will pay Spirit a reverse break-up fee of $70 million and stockholders of Spirit a reverse break-up fee of $400 million less any amounts paid to stockholders of Spirit prior to termination.

News of the JetBlue and Spirit combination comes after weeks of Frontier and JetBlue tussling over who would ultimately get to add the budget airline to its arsenal. While Spirit initially struck a deal with Frontier and had stood by that proposed agreement, its shareholders were not on board. The decision by Spirit and Frontier to terminate their deal was announced Wednesday while Spirit shareholders were still voting on the proposal. It was apparent that despite the support of Spirit’s board, shareholders were prepared to reject the deal and seek a richer one from JetBlue.

JetBlue anticipates $600 million to $700 million in annual savings once the transaction is complete. Annual revenue for the combined company is anticipated to be about $11.9 billion, based on 2019 revenues.

JetBlue and Spirit will continue to operate independently until after the transaction closes. Their respective loyalty programs remain unchanged and customer accounts will not be affected in any way.

The deal still needs the required regulatory approvals and approval from Spirit’s stockholders. The companies expect to conclude the regulatory process and close the transaction no later than the first half of 2024.

Spirit’s stock rose more than 4% before the market open, while shares of JetBlue were up slightly.

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Entertainment

Man Shot Dead While Working at ‘Law & Order’ Film Location

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Detectives process the crime scene on North Henry Street where a man was shot while sitting on his car early Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Photo: Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/TNS.

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York man working at a filming location for the TV series “Law & Order: Organized Crime” was shot and killed early Tuesday before filming was scheduled to start for the day.

According to police, Johnny Pizarro was found at about 5:15 a.m. on a residential street in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and neck.

The 31-year-old Queens resident was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police were investigating and hadn’t released information on suspects or a motive.

News photos from the scene showed police tape blocking off a street where traffic cones stood in spots where cars normally would be parked. No filming was going on at the time of the shooting, according to an NBC spokesperson.

The network confirmed that Pizarro was a crew member for the series, a spinoff of the long-running “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” It is in production for its third season and scheduled to air this fall.

“We were terribly saddened and shocked to hear that one of our crew members was the victim of a crime early this morning and has died as a result,” NBC and Universal Television said in a statement. “We are working with local law enforcement as they continue to investigate. Our hearts go out to his family and friends and we ask that you respect their privacy during this time.”

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National Football League, NFLPA and Mythical Team Up for Upcoming NFL Play-and-Own NFT Video Game

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Mythical Games and NFL NFT game "NFL Rivals" is set to release in early 2023. Photo: NFL.

NEW YORK and LOS ANGELESThe National Football League (NFL), NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and next-generation gaming technology studio Mythical Games today announced a partnership to launch NFL Rivals, a new NFL video game that leverages blockchain technology, on the Mythical Platform in early 2023. Delivering on the fantasy of being a team General Manager, this fun, easy to play game will allow NFL fans and gamers alike to compete against other GMs with their assembled player rosters and teams, building, leveling up and improving their lineup. In addition, fans will be able to own, collect and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their favorite players through this play-and-own game experience.

“With the rise of blockchain technology, we are thrilled to partner with Mythical Games on a blockchain-enabled game that delivers new play-to-own NFT capabilities, creating a new adventure for fans who love to play football games,” said Joe Ruggiero, SVP of Consumer Products at the NFL. “The interest in NFTs and video gaming amongst current and prospective fans continues to grow and combined have accelerated the NFL’s exploration of new gaming models that can deliver an unmatched experience to fans.”

Ahead of the NFL Rivals game launch, 32 limited-quantity collections of unique generative 3D NFL franchise-themed NFTs will be released in a series of drops called “Rarity League.” This officially licensed collection will provide owners access to special events, in-game rewards and other unique features.

“NFTs are revolutionizing the fan experience, and we’re excited to collaborate with the imaginative team at Mythical Games to create a whole new blockchain-based world in which NFL players take center stage.” said Terése Whitehead, Vice President, Consumer Products & Strategy at NFL Players Inc., the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA.

“Partnering with the NFL to drive new fan and player engagement through fresh game design and the benefits of Web3 is an exciting moment for us,” said Jamie Jackson, Chief Creative Officer, Mythical Games. “NFTs with utility can add value to players in-game, and we can’t wait to bring these concepts to NFL Rivals to evolve the team management genre by adding the advantages of play-and-own games, offering the community new ways to engage with their favorite teams and players both in and outside this virtual world.”

NFL Rivals will launch globally for web and mobile web in early 2023. Interested players can join the Discord or visit the NFL Rivals website now for more information and to stay updated.

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