Paramount Global and MTV business exec promotes Black ownership

Lance McPherson shares how they are making a lane for the Black and Brown community

Lance McPherson is the executive vice president of business and legal affairs at Paramount/ MTV Entertainment Studios. He manages the day-to-day business activities of several Paramount networks, including Showtime, MTV, Comedy Central, and Paramount.

His focus is strategic deal-making, drafting, and legal counsel in connection with content development, production, distribution, marketing, and social media.

McPherson attended the HBCU Power TV & Film Festival and shared why Black ownership is important.

What made you gravitate towards the film and TV industry?

I decided in college that I wanted to go to law school. I had an older brother who was in entertainment, which was intriguing to me, so I wanted to combine the two. That began my journey.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Day-to-day, my group oversees the core business, which is the production development of content. It is primarily a transactional practice, so most of the attorneys in my group negotiate and draft contracts between us and third parties to produce our content. Then we stay with the project and troubleshoot as legal issues arise.

On the legal side of things, what is something your team looks out for the most?

We try to do deals that allow us to maintain ownership of the content, and have as unrestricted distribution rights as possible. In the current environment, you want to be able to exploit your content on every platform, as often as possible to maximize either subscriber fees or ad revenue. We try to be as broad as possible in doing our deals.

Why is Black ownership needed in the film and TV space?

I think it’s important for everybody, and everybody wants to own their content. I think it is increasingly challenging for everybody, no matter where they sit, to own their content. It’s harder for artists. It’s harder for networks. Black filmmakers as well as producers are a part of that challenging environment. I think the good news is you are going to mostly enjoy Black stories from Black people. To the extent that they’re able to create this content themselves, produce it themselves, and finance it themselves, they have a better chance to walk away with ownership.

How are Paramount Global, Showtime, and MTV Entertainment making a lane for the Black and Brown community?

Paramount Global, in general, makes a strong effort to make sure that we have diverse voices and faces in front of the screen. It is something that the company is upfront about, loud about, and having that initiative and speaking about that initiative keeps it at the forefront of the culture of the company. That’s how they’re making efforts to achieve that.

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