By Kent Gibbons, BROADCASTING & CABLE
Entertainment Studios chief excited about industry developments.
Media mogul Byron Allen said he’s excited about NAB Show’s return to Las Vegas, about broadcasting and digital media and about the 40th anniversary of Allen Media Group-owned The Weather Channel.
Allen will sit down tomorrow for a fireside chat with former NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. Allen Media Group owns 27 TV stations along with pay TV channels including The Weather Channel, which is launching a Spanish-language outlet as a free streaming channel later this year. Climate change awareness makes the service important, he said. “The Weather Channel is leading the charge and leading the conversation in ‘let’s work together and let’s combat climate change and global warming,’” he said in a recent interview.
Allen was reportedly interested in buying Tegna, which recently agreed to be sold to private equity-backed Standard General for $8.6 billion including $3.2 billion in assumed debt. Allen said he could not comment on Tegna but that he remains interested in buying TV stations, especially affiliates of Big Four networks. “We’re on the hunt, big time,” he said.
AMG has been launching free ad-supported streaming services, including Sports.TV, TheGrio.TV and HBCUGo.TV, along with Local Now and The Weather Channel en Español, which is launching in the second or third quarter of this year. Broadcasting and cable outlets including his Entertainment Studios Networks still interest AMG’s founder, chairman and CEO, though.
“I have to tell you, the industry is appreciating Black-owned media,” Allen said. “I would say 95 percent of them want to lean in. There’s that 5 percent that tries to minimize, which is why I sued McDonald’s for $10 billion.” That suit, claiming McDonald’s has discriminated against Black-owned media companies (including The Weather Channel and ES Networks) in ad buying, is working its way through federal courts.
“I think that this industry has a huge opportunity to be the leader, make an example and show the rest of corporate America how to do it and how to help us all be better and achieve something that really is long overdue,” Allen said. “It’s something we need to put behind us and do the right way and make us all better and really lean in to make sure every American is successful, and I do mean every American, young, old, Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, everybody.”