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.
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.