Former Republican congressman J.C. Watts launches Black News Channel

It is a 24-hour cable news network for and about Black people

JC Watts
BNC Co-Founder & Chairman, JC Watts Jr., last week on the Red Carpet at the NAACP Image Awards. (Credit: Black News Channel_

The Black News Channel, a new cable channel that will offer around the clock, 24-hour news about Black people, launched on Monday.

The network, “by black people, for black people,” was created by former Congressman J.C. Watts (R-Okla.). It initially launches in 33 million U.S. households in heavy Black markets, including New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, reported The Hill. The BNC is being backed by Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid “Shad” Khan, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. Khan has not disclosed the amount of his investment, but a source told The New York Post that it exceeded $25 million.

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“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 explained in a recent NPR interview. “We’re not looking to be liberal or conservative. 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.”

The BNC, based in Tallahassee, Fla., is available to Spectrum, Xfinity X-1 and Dish network customers. It hopes to add Sling and Roku soon. The channel will feature on-air anchors, including Kelly Wright, former Fox News anchor and reporter, former CNN and TBS host Fred Hickman, libertarian radio host Larry Elder, Lauren McCoy, who formerly anchored Fox 44 and former CBS reporter Lauren McGee, according to The Hill. The new network so far has hired 60 people.

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“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 recently at the BNC launch event. “I was thrilled from day one.”

“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,” added Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) at the launch event, reported The Hill. “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 has partnered with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade organization made up of more than 200 Black-owned community newspapers across the United States.