In my Legends & Leaders interview with Byron Allen, he expands on his three-decade mission to increase advertising investments in Black-owned media with a direct warning to the CEOs and CMOs of every leading brand marketer. With Allen's success in driving cable distribution growth; his acquisition of Black News Channel and the expansion of The Grio; his massive investment in HBCU GO Sports, The Weather Channel en Español and Local Now 27 broadcast television stations; plus multiple content-specific .tv branded websites and assets, most executives who have failed to pay close attention to Allen's vision and warnings have learned to regret it. In our conversation, Allen shares a clear vision for the future of Allen Media Group and for Black-owned media. His warning is to all those, and especially to corporate CEOs and CMOs, who continue to accept and fail to act on institutional bias in their advertising investments. Watch my engaging, entertaining and very serious conversation with Bryon Allen above.
Following are just a few of his comments.
Allen: In my humble opinion, nobody's better prepared for the streaming revolution than us, which is why I've always said this will be the world's biggest media company. What people are starting to see is my vision of my last four decades come to fruition.
Allen: One America has access to opportunity, jobs, economic inclusion, education. The other America doesn't. Two Americas won't survive. I'm dedicated to making sure we achieve one America.
Allen: Too often in this country people weaponize media and use it to divide us and destroy us. I am not going to allow that to happen.
Allen: You know, I don't care who you vote for; just vote. And if you vote do us all a favor and be truly informed. And what we're saying is that Black America must vote. Those four words: Black America Must Vote. You must vote because Black America is the most powerful vote in the world. We are the tiebreaker.
Allen: Look at the great atrocity of the Black News Channel filing bankruptcy. When you look at the Black News Channel it's the epitome of corporate racism. It received zero distribution dollars and the ad dollars for the Black News Channel were less than a million dollars non-direct response.
Allen: What I've said to America, you have to look at me as the Caucasian whisper. I'm here to help white people be better. What I've said is that we cannot be the America we can be until everybody is participating on all levels; making sure everybody has a great education, everybody has equal justice, everybody has economic inclusion, everybody has environmental protection, and we all have empathy. Stop acting like we don't see the food insecure; we don't see the homeless; we don't see the mentally ill.
Allen:We're doing good things for our communities and for America and it starts with education. So now, I say to advertisers, no more excuses. We've checked every box. The Grio is the first 100% Black-owned network, Black targeted, Black managed, and now we are educating Black kids in America. No more excuses now. There shouldn't be an advertiser in the world that should say to us, "I don't know how to get in business with The Grio." Yeah, you do.
Allen:And if you don't [get in business with The Grio], you leave us no choice but to hold you accountable. There isn't anybody in corporate America -- a board chairman, a CEO, a chief marketing officer -- I'm not going to let anybody escape ignoring The Grio. There's no defense for not doing business with Black-owned media in a real and meaningful way. When I call them on it, they're going to lose their careers. I have said for the last two-years you should lose your career on this. Now I'm going to call you on it.
Allen:I've made it very clear that the ad industry needs to increase your allocations to us. And you need to pay us higher CPMs than my white counterparts.
Allen:I'm forcing the conversation when I'm saying is there's no work-around for not allocating 5% to 10% of your budgets to Black-owned media.
Allen:I don't want to talk about crime anymore, America, and you need to stop talking about crime, America. You need to start talking about education and economic inclusion. And the crime will evaporate; it will go away magically -- poof! gone -- because everybody's educated and everybody has economic inclusion and, by the way, we are a better, stronger country because of it.
Allen: And if you are not standing with us, you are standing against us and you are part of the evil in this community.
View the full Legends & Leaders Conversation with Byron Allen above, and view more on the Byron Allen story, beginning with his being the youngest comedian to appear on"The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson"in my conversation with him here.
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