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Former LA Lakers star Magic Johnson plans to launch a cable television network that features a mix of film, music, comedy, performing arts and shows about faith.
Johnson's Aspire Channel is scheduled to launch in June. The NBA Hall of Famer, a communications studies major at Michigan State University, said he was looking for a vehicle to showcase positive images of African Americans.
"Aspire will be a network that encourages and challenges African-Americans to reach for their dreams and will appeal to all generations," Johnson said in a statement. "Aspire will celebrate our heritage, our groundbreaking achievements and the fearless talent that has shaped American culture. I’m most excited about Aspire creating opportunities for the new voices, new visions and the next generation of storytellers."
Johnson's channel, a partnership with GMC TV, is set to become one of four new independent networks distributed on Comcast Cable systems between April and January 2014. The ultimate goal is to launch 10 independently owned and opearted networks over the next eight years.
"Honored to be following in the footsteps of one of my idols, Bob Johnson of @BET," Johnson tweeted Tuesday morning, referring to the founder of BET.
The effort is part of Comcast's promise to federal officials to diversify its networks after it purchased NBC.
"The national networks do not speak to black people and brown people at all, as far as programming is concerned," said KPCC film critic Tim Cogshell. "There are no black or brown people behind the scenes greenlighting the programs that Magic feels people want to see."
The three-time NBA MVP retired from the sport about 20 years ago, returning for about 30 games in 1996. Since that time, Johnson has been part of series of business ventures. He also runs a charitable foundation, and Magic Johnson Enterprises has provided support for projects in urban communities.
Johnson became chair of Vibe Holdings, parent company of Vibe magazine, last year. He also has expressed an interest in a bid for the LA Dodgers.
Editor's Note: Comcast is the parent company of NBC.