Johnson's TV net still on track


Ion Media Networks, the company with which BET founder and former CEO Robert Johnson has partnered to create a new Urban TV network, has filed for bankruptcy court protection.

However, “ION’s filing has no impact on the ION/URBAN venture,” Traci Otey Blunt, a spokeswoman for Johnson, told Journal-isms. “ION is not going out of business and this filing is not a liquidation. They filed under Chapter 11 to clean up their balance sheet and to gain financial flexibility and will remain in control of all of their business operations. ION’s day-to-day operations will continue uninterrupted and this allows for ION to continue to execute their programming plans including the Urban TV venture.”

Johnson is seeking permission to share time on over-the-air stations owned by Ion, an arrangement supported by the National Association of Black Journalists and other black groups, but opposed by competitor TV One and the NCTA.

“As you are aware, our joint venture is on hold pending the FCC’s approval of our application. We are awaiting the appointment of the FCC Commissioner (and remaining Commissioners) and believe our proposal represents the opportunity for the FCC, with the stroke of a pen, to create more diversity in ownership and programming,” Blunt said. “The Obama-Biden Technology and Innovation plan, which incoming FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was instrumental in drafting outlines the Administration’s commitment to encourage this and Bob Johnson’s vision for Urban Television addresses both diversity in ownership and programming.”