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LR-set network aims at blacks

Soul of the South starts up May 27

By Jessica Seaman

This article was published April 18, 2013 at 12:45 a.m.

A Little Rock-based television network aiming to attract black viewers in the South is set to begin broadcasting next month.

Soul of the South Network, a news and entertainment broadcaster, will start May 27, according to a news release.

While the network will have its headquarters in Little Rock, it will have news bureaus in 12 other Southern states. The headquarters of Soul of the South will be in Equity Broadcasting Corp.’s former building at 1 Shackleford Drive.

The network’s sister company, Southern Soul Broadcasting, will have stations in seven cities including, Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta.

The broadcast lineup will include about five hours of news, including a two-hour morning show, and the rest will be entertainment programming, said Larry Morton, chief operations officer for Soul of the South.

He said some of the entertainment programs will be produced by the company while the rest will be syndicated shows.

The network will be “based on Southern family values,” Morton said.

Morton said in the news release that the network will be similar to Telemundo, a television network that broadcasts in Spanish.

The network’s Little Rock newsroom will provide national news for all the stations, while local affiliates will focus on local news, Morton said.

He said the company is in the process of hiring reporters and other staff members.

“Over a period of time we will probably hire more than 100 people here in Arkansas,” Morton said.

Soul of the South originally announced plans to begin broadcasting last year, but was delayed.

“It was delayed mainly because we hadn’t finished all of our funding operations,” Morton said.

The Arkansas Development Finance Authority approved $1 million in equity financing for Soul of the South to place its headquarters in the state, said Gene Eagle, vice president of the agency. The money is an incentive for small businesses that comes from the the American Jobs Act of 2010, he said.

Soul of the South also received a 33 1/3 percent state tax credit that goes directly to investors.

The network also qualified for a $1.5 million loan from the Arkansas Capital Corporation.

Richard Mays, an attorney and former Arkansas Supreme Court justice, will serve as chairman of the board of directors.

Mays said the network will be unique “because it’s not a brand that has been universally sold in America.

“It alters the perspective about the South,” he said.

Business, Pages 25 on 04/18/2013

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