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Magic Johnson to head Comcast cable channel Aspire

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Magic Johnson, the former Laker and basketball Hall of Famer, has long been on an aspirational journey. This summer he plans to bring his upbeat message to new audiences with the launch of a 24-hour cable television channel named Aspire, via Comcast Corp.

Comcast plans to announce Tuesday that it will make available Johnson’s 24-hour network in late June in about 11 million of its subscribers’ homes. The initiative begins to fulfill a promise the cable operator made last year when it was seeking the federal government’s approval of its more than $14 billion merger with NBCUniversal.

The Philadelphia-based cable giant agreed to launch 10 new channels by 2018, including eight owned by African Americans and Latinos, to diversify its channel line-up.

‘I told Comcast that I wanted to be sure I got the first one,’ Johnson said with a laugh during an interview with the Times.

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Johnson, who left professional sports 20 years ago and has since built a business empire, said the channel would focus on positive, uplifting images of African Americans. The basic cable outlet, which will be based in Atlanta, will join other channels targeting black viewers, like BET and TV One, and will offer opportunities for blacks who have struggled to find work in mainstream Hollywood.

“This is big for myself, for the African American community and the African American creative community,’ Johnson said. ‘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.”

Read the full story in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times.

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-- Greg Braxton and Meg James


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