The Black News Channel, a new Tallahassee-based cable news network launching on November 15, is being backed by Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid “Shad” Khan, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The channel will launch in 33 million U.S. households and will target an African-American audience, according to WJCT News. The network is news gathered, written and reported by Black people for Black people, reported The New York Post.
Khan has not disclosed the amount of his investment, but a source told The New York Post that it exceeded $25 million. Another source referred to the deal as “open-ended,” explaining that “whatever Khan gets involved in, he’s in all the way.”
“My decision to invest was an easy one,” Khan said, according to The New York Post.
The timing is ripe for the channel, according to the channel’s website.
“The number of cable news networks dedicated to serving the nation’s African American communities remains at ZERO! Black News Channel will be the nation’s first channel to fill this significant void,” the site reads.
BNC’s founder is J.C. Watts, Jr., a former congressman from Oklahoma who also played football in the Canadian Football League. The co-founder is Bob Brillante, who is a veteran of Florida television and helped to launch the Sunshine Network, which has since become Fox Sports Sun. Brillante also launched Florida’s News Channel, a 24-hour regional cable news network, which is now defunct.
Khan said he is backing the Black News Channel’s mission to give voices to issues in the Black community – something he is committed to himself.
“This is a chance for me to make an impact on how African Americans report and consume news and related programming, how their voices are amplified and heard, and how all of us can better connect socially, culturally, economically and more,” Khan said in a news release, according to WJCT News. “I am truly proud to be part of such an ambitious but worthy effort.”
Watts said he’s excited to have Khan’s support.
“Obviously, he’s a successful business person, not just in the Jacksonville area with the Jaguars and the things that he has going on there, but I think nationally and internationally. He’s got a brand that we’re excited and thrilled that he chose to join his brand to our efforts,” said Watts, according to WJCT News.
The Black News Channel will initially be available to 23 million satellite TV households and 10 million cable TV households. Watts told WJCT News that more distribution agreements would be forthcoming.