The former Laker and Hall of Famer is preparing to launch Aspire, a 24-hour channel with a focus on “positive, uplifting images of African-Americans.”
“This is so exciting for me, I’m pinching myself,” Johnson told the L.A. Times. “This is big for myself, for the African-American community and the African-American creative community.”
“I wanted a vehicle to show positive images and to have stories written, produced and directed by African-Americans for our community. Aspire– that’s how I’ve been leading my life,” he says.
On June 30, Aspire will join the ranks of other Black networks such as BET, TV One and Bounce to provide the community with targeted programming. Johnson says the network will include film, TV, music and comedy, original programming and acquired projects, but also performing arts and shows about faith.
Similar to Diddy’s upcoming music network Revolt, Aspire will launch under Comcast Corp. as part of its agreement with the FCC and Department of Justice to diversity programming. By 2018, Comcast will have backed 10 new independently owned cable channels, mostly by African-Americans and Latinos.
Johnson’s network will begin in 11 million Comcast Cable customers’ homes, but he hopes to expand to 50 million homes within the next few years.
And as for learning from his peers’ mistakes? (read: Oprah’s mistakes)
“We’ll learn from those who have gone before us. We understand the landscape, and we will run a sound business.”