Magic Johnson‘s Atlanta-based cable network, “Aspire,” debuts today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The network, which will focus on family programming, has partnered with Atlanta-based GMC, which carries its own positive programming. Magic will be the majority owner. He also inked several advertising deals with Coca Cola, L’Oreal, Chrysler, Wal-Mart and Nationwide Insurance.
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Magic told Journal-Constitution that his move to launch the network stems from sound business relationships and a commitment to projecting positive images of the Black community.
“I’m a great believer in partnerships,” Johnson said in a phone interview Monday. “If I didn’t partner with GMC, I wouldn’t be in the business. We needed someone with some expertise. I thought it was a natural fit.” The name of the network, he added, is meant to reflect the positivity he hopes will come out of the programming.
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Though the market is full of choices for Black audience, Magic says there is a void to be filled in regards to family-friendly African-American programming.
“Nobody is going to mess with BET. They’re doing a great job. We understand the other guys. But we feel good about where we are. Based on the research and homework, we have a great opportunity. If everyone was satisfied already, I wouldn’t be launching Aspire.”
The first show to debut on the network will be “ABFF Independent,” a weekly two-hour show, hosted by actor Omari Hardwick that will present the best independent movies, feature films and documentaries from up-and-coming Black directors.
The show is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
The network has a limited budget, but hopes that it will pick up a buzz via social media. The Journal-Constitution reports that Magic has hired a small staff to manage the network’s Twitter and Facebook efforts.