The Black News Channel, the first 24-hour news channel created “by black people, for black people” launched Monday.
The new network, founded by former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) and reaches 33 million households in heavy African American markets including New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
BNC is based in Tallahassee, Fla., and employs 60 people.
“I think there needs to be a more comprehensive story told about the African American community, and we’ll have a venue to do that,” Watts told NPR in a recent interview.
“We’re not looking to be liberal or conservative,” he added. “We want to provide a venue for African Americans to have a voice, to be a part of the dialogue that’s going on in the country, be it incarceration reform or impeachment.”
On-air talent includes former Fox News anchor and reporter Kelly Wright, former CNN and TBS host Fred Hickman, libertarian radio host Larry Elder, former Fox 44 anchor Lauren McCoy and former CBS journalist Lauren McGee.
The channel is available to Spectrum, Xfinity X-1 and Dish network customers, and looks to be available on Sling and Roku soon.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am that there is going to be a 24 hour, seven day a week Black News Channel,” Rep. Karen Bass
(D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said at a recent launch event. “I was thrilled from day one.”
A 2012 Nielsen Media Research study
showed that more than 9 in 10 African Americans “believe that black-owned media is more relevant to them.”
“We’ve been really pushing for diversity and inclusion in the broadcast space and cable space and it’s because we live in a multi-racial civil society,” said Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) at the launch event. “For far too long, our media didn’t speak to that and today still doesn’t speak to that diversity. The Black News Channel will fill a void in many spaces.”
The channel is partnering with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade organization composed of more than 200 African American-owned community newspapers across the country.