The nation’s only African American news network, based in Tallahassee, will launch nationwide Monday.
Founded by chairman J.C. Watts Jr. and CEO Bob Brillante, the Black News Channel (BNC) represents the African American community in mainstream media. The network plans to target unique challenges facing urban communities and the “image gap” that exists today between the negative black stereotypes in the media.
“The launch of Black News Channel will be not only historic, but also transformational,” Brillante said. “We will shed more light on the stories that demonstrate our commonality, rather than those that highlight our differences.”
“I have traveled around the country participating in interviews, serving on panel discussions, and sharing BNC’s mission and commitment to telling a more complete story of the African American community,” Watts said. “There is growing interest and anticipation about the Black News Channel, as well as a palpable level of excitement about our launch.”
While Watts is a Republican, he said the channel will be about African American culture and won’t cater to political ideologies. Former Democratic Tallahassee Mayor John Marks is part of its management team.
“We’re not looking to be Republican or Democrat. Obviously, there will be current affairs, but we are culturally specific to the African American community. MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, they may have African American faces on their news shows, but they are not necessarily covering the community from a cultural perspective,” Watts told The Associated Press in October. “We’re not looking to be left or right.”
The launch also coincides with the 45th national Black History Month. Historian Carter G. Woodson, a founder of the Association for the Study of African American History, created the first celebration that became the annual tradition.
In October, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, worth an estimated $8 billion, announced he will be the network’s majority owner. He also owns Fulham Football Club of the English Football League, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto and All Elite Wrestling.
BNC’s collaboration with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) — an organization that represents African American newspapers nationwide — will provide the network access to stories not covered by other news organizations.
The network will be available on Spectrum, Xfinity X-1, Platform and Dish Networks and, later, Sling, Vizio, Smart TVs, Xumo and Roku. Those distribution partners give it a reach of more than 100 million customers.
BNC’s partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities offers internship and training opportunities for the nation’s next generation of aspiring young journalists.
The network will celebrate its kickoff on Friday, February 21 at the Florida A&M University College of Law at 6 p.m.