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Howard University's WHUT May Be on the Auction Block: Black Companies that Aren't Black


It’s another sign of tough economic times and a changing communications landscape influenced by the digital age. Howard University’s WHUT held the distinction of being the only black-owned public television in the nation for 35 years.

Now, the country’s top HBCU has less than three months to decide whether to auction off its public television station or fight to keep it.  Auctioning the station off could bring in an estimated $100-$500 million which Howard needs to keep the university operating smoothly. But it would mean the end of an era for “Black owned” public TV.

The fact that Howard’s WHUT has held on this long is a feat in and of itself. Other formerly Black-owned companies handed over the reins, remotes, shoelaces and pages to  non-white ownership long ago. Just because “Black” is in the name doesn’t make it Black.

downloadBET America’s Black Entertainment Television started out as a network founded by a Black entrepreneur for Blacks.  But 18 years ago, BET was sold to the mass media company Viacom which is the sixth largest broadcasting and cable company in the world.



cover_flip Essence Magazine is another communication tool that targets the Black community but is no longer Black owned.  Essence first came on the scene in 1970 to fill a void that left Black women out of the fashion magazine world. With covers of beautiful Black celebrities and articles that zeroed in on cultural conversations, Essence became essential reading for Black women.  After 34 years of Black ownership, Essence came under White ownership when Time Inc. made its initial advances to purchase the mag and bought up the remaining 51 percent of the company in 2005.






dark-lovely-model-searchYou would think a product named Dark and Lovely aimed at the specific needs of Black hair care would be owned by Blacks, but think again.  Dark and Lovely used to be owned by Softsheen, but it’s now owned and operated by L’Oreal.

Many Black-owned companies sell out to larger companies to provide better services under ownership that has deeper pockets and can bring in more operating capital to improve the product.  Sometimes they sell because they tire of the grind of running the business, or because when someone offers you $2.4 Billion dollars (as the case with BET and Viacom) you don’t turn that kind of money down.

Although these sales are made public knowledge, many people still aren’t aware the companies with “Black” in the name or heritage, aren’t Black at all anymore.

And if most people were aware, it’s doubtful they would keep supporting companies that are Black in name only. L’Oreal may have experts who know hair, researched hair, study hair, but if you don’t live with Black hair types, then it’s hard to tell me what’s best for my hair.

Howard’s WHUT is just another piece of Black history that ironically could go the way of Blacks in history and be sold off to the highest bidder.

What do you think? Does Black owned means better businesses for Black customers? Or is it simply business and doesn’t matter?

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Comment by eollis on October 13, 2019 at 4:29am

Snipers are online services opened by companies that have decided to earn extra money and satisfy the huge market demand. The scheme is simple. Experienced buyers usually do not take an active part in bidding without encouraging other bidders. They make a winning bid for a few seconds before the end of trading on the lot. And this rate exceeds the previous maximum a bit. And this most common technology of experienced Buyers was taken as the basis for "snipers".

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