*An Atlanta-based company is set to partner with ESPN to launch a new sports, education, entertainment and lifestyle channel dedicated to the 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the US.

The HBCU Network is currently negotiating programming alliances with ESPN, which includes rights to the black college conference games where ESPN currently has exclusive rights deals, and TV One, which targets adult African American viewers.

The channel, from Atlanta-based C3 Media, LLC, is set to launch in about 10 million households in 2011, and is billed to fill a void in college sports by becoming the official destination of all four major HBCU Conferences (MEAC, SWAC, SIAC and CIAA), including Division I and Division II black college sporting events, according to the network.

Additionally, the “24/7, 365-day-a-year” network will offer education, entertainment and lifestyle programming, the network stated.

Also, the channel will make the unprecedented move of providing a 20% equity position to the HBCUs, “offering direct financial benefit and long-term sustainability,” the network announced.

“The idea and vision behind the creation of the HBCU Network is to preserve and celebrate the African American colleges and universities, while also providing opportunities for their growth and further prosperity,” said CEO Curtis Symonds. “At the same time, we are passionate and excited about building a strong media brand and network from the ground up.”