Radio One committed to buying out its TV One partners


Despite the financial challenges of 2009, Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins is upbeat on TV One, which as a five-year-old start up cable net is still growing revenues. Late this year Radio One is supposed to come to terms on buying out the financial investors who backed the January 2004 launch alongside Radio One and Comcast. Liggins says the company intends to find funding to make that happen, with closing expected in early 2010.

Constellation Ventures, Pacesetter Capital Group, Syndicated Communications Inc. and Opportunity Capital Partners were all private equity backers of TV One. Radio One made the biggest investment and has overseen management of the cable TV venture. In all, the six partners pledged funding of $131 million, although that hasn’t all been tapped. Liggins said Thursday that TV One is currently sitting on cash and hasn’t recently had to go back to the investors for money.

For Q4, Radio One reported equity in income for its stake in TV One of $267,000, compared to a loss of $5.6 million a year earlier. TV One’s Q4 revenues were up 69% from a year ago.

Asked about carriage expansion, Liggins said growth in 2009 will come almost exclusively from subscriber growth by its cable and satellite partners. Two major carriers remain outside the TV One footprint – Dish Network and Cablevision. Liggins said they are the most difficult to deal with, so he’s not predicting that TV One will cut carriage deals with either of them in 2009.