by Manuel McDonnell Smith
In an exclusive conversation with PABJ PRISM, longtime television journalist Arthur Fennell has confirmed that cable and broadcast giant Comcast has axed his long-running news program “Art Fennell Reports”. The show, described on the network’s website as “candid and interactive look on the news and events that have people talking” had been aired twice weekly, on Sundays and Thursdays on the network’s flagship Comcast Network. “It was on for seven years”, recalled Fennell who described the show’s tenure as “a great ride.”
Fennell also confirmed other published reports that his show was slashed along with two other local news/talk programs that had been aired on the network. He explained that about 15 people in all were employed between the various programs. The host was not sure of how all of the staffers would be affected by the cancellation of the programs, but said that the end of the program did mean the termination of employment with the network for both him and longtime producer Brian Aiken.
“This has been in the works for a long while,” said Fennell, who says the network cancelled the shows in order to make more room for sports programming. In January, Comcast and the Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Club entered into a long-term $2.5 billion dollar contract that gives the network an equity stake in the baseball team. Fennell said it was his understanding that the network’s news and talk programming was being cancelled in favor of more sports programming. The Comcast Network did not respond to a request for comment from PABJ PRISM.
Other local journalists contacted by PABJ PRISM expressed surprise at the cancellation of the show, and it was due to a subject of conversation at the upcoming General Membership Meeting of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. Fennell, who served in the past as President of both the Philadelphia and National Associations of Black Journalists said the cancellation of the show is “not a sad time, although I am sad that we will not be able to continue to speak to the consciousness of the community about issues of immediate nature outside of standard news format. The show had a purpose which we met, and which is why we were able to survive so long”, he said.
Arthur Fennell said that he did not have any plans to reveal about a return to broadcasting in the immediate future, although he did say that he has “several next level things in the works” and that he is “looking forward to the next adventure, and the possibilities of what that might be”.