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SOULBEAT: Reversing the Corporate Trend

NCM Profile

NCM, Donal Brown Posted: Sep 03, 2003

A man on a mission has drawn a line in the sand against allowing big media to monopolize the airwaves of America.

In July, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission approved allowing a concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few. Critics are afraid that this would reduce the diversity of culture and opinion, a dangerous trend.

With a number of as yet unknown backers, SOULBEAT News Director Chauncey Bailey is set on reversing the trend and buying the cable TV station from Viacom, its corporate owner.

He says that black TV is nearly extinct, and takeovers by corporations have failed to provide the resources necessary to make black stations viable.

Bailey is buying SOULBEAT with the intent to revitalize black TV by providing greater funding to extend its reach and improve its services to the community. There are 17 cities in the United States with more blacks than whites, he says. We want to tap into the national black consumer market which is $550 billion a year from a population of 38 million blacks.

Founded in 1978 by Chuck Johnson, SOULBEAT is the oldest African American station in the United States. It currently serves 100,000 households and webcasts to a worldwide audience from www.soulbeattv.com.

The station now features an interactive talk show format with news and music. As news director, Bailey has a staff of 20 that broadcasts neighborhood news, sports, business and African and Caribbean news. They have been successful in finding five missing children by showing their photos on air.

SOULBEAT has also put NAACP representatives on TV and provided a program for Black Men First, a group dedicated to reaching out to young black men to reduce the homicide rate in Oakland. Bailey wants to increase these efforts to give local people greater access to the station.

SOULBEAT is currently broadcast in Oakland, Piedmont and Emeryville. But Bailey hopes to expand its reach to Hayward and beyond. To do that, he must convince the Comcast cable company that SOULBEAT can do a better job of serving the viewers than other stations.

Bailey sees no reason for black stations to fold. If you can have a station just for left-handed golfers and a station just for Cambodians, he says, why cant you have a station for blacks?

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