Statement By Robert L. Johnson In Response To Comments Made By Alfred Liggins And Michael Powell On The Universal Set-Top Box
SILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- "As the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), I know how difficult it was to get distribution over cable. But with the support of the cable industry and the African American community, I and others, turned BET into the success it is today. The universal set-top box, unlike the leased cable box, opens up the unfettered opportunity for hundreds of minority programming aspirants who would like to create content success of their own, similar to what I enjoyed with BET. With all due respect to my good friends Alfred Liggins, Founder and CEO of TV One, and Michael Powell, CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), it is not the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) role or obligation to force Black Americans who have a median net worth of $13,000 to spend an average of $231 a year to lease a cable box so TV One and the cable industry can make billions of dollars off of working class Black Americans, to only have access to four Black-oriented channels out of over 500 choices that principally show network reruns. Furthermore, there is nothing in the FCC's proposed rulemaking that would allow technology companies to infringe on TV One's advertising revenue and relationships. On the other hand, my company, RLJ Entertainment (NASDAQ: RLJE), is well on the way to proving that programmers do not have to be totally dependent on advertising models. RLJE operates two over-the-top (OTT) subscription streaming channels, both of which depend on direct subscriber revenue. Acorn TV, which produces countless hours of original British mysteries and dramas, and UMC - Urban Movie Channel, through its parent company RLJ Entertainment, acquires more minority and independent films than any minority programmer on cable. And by the way, we have licensed content to both TV One and BET. UMC, as a minority targeted program channel, is a perfect example of the opportunity that hundreds of other minority programmers will have when the universal set-top box is implemented and their content is given equal access to the subscriber on any viewing device, particularly the television set. Finally, the FCC should not protect minority incumbents, but should encourage new minority entrants, and that is what the universal set-top box does. Most minority programmers I know, unlike TV One, are not asking the FCC to protect them from competition but are simply seeking an opportunity for a fair chance and a fair shot to have their content seen and their voices heard!"
Robert L. Johnson is Chairman, RLJ Entertainment and the Founder of Black Entertainment Television
ABOUT RLJ ENTERTAINMENT - RLJ Entertainment's (NASDAQ: RLJE) recent feature films include Blackbird starring Mo'Nique, Isaiah Washington and Julian Walker and written & directed by Patrick Ian Polk; Criminal Activities with John Travolta, Michael Pitt and Dan Stevens and directed by Jackie Earle Haley; Where Children Play with Teyonah Parris, Brian While, Leon and Macy Gray; and The Adulterers starring Mehcad Brooks, Sean Faris and Danielle Savre. These titles are distributed in multiple formats including theatrical, VOD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download. www.us.rljentertainment.com.
ABOUT UMC - UMC – URBAN MOVIE CHANNEL - Urban Movie Channel was created by Robert L. Johnson, Chairman of RLJ Entertainment and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET). UMC is a premium subscription-based service which features quality urban content showcasing feature films, documentaries, original series, stand-up comedy, and other exclusive content for African American and urban audiences. For more information visit: www.urbanmoviechannel.com. Media Inquiries: Traci Otey Blunt, 240.743.7620 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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