As proud publishers of an African-American newspaper, we’re big supporters of providing our community news, information and educational content focused on their interests and needs. So you can guess how excited we were to hear about the upcoming launch of Black News Channel.

With more than 200 stations on any cable suppliers basic channel listings, there’s absolutely zero channels dedicated to providing Black viewers culturally relevant news. Both of our prominent Black networks – BET and TV One – have completely banished their news programming. The Black News Channel, which launches at 6 a.m. on Fri., Nov. 15, will bring the Black community 24-hour, 7-day-a-week news programming, will fill a significant television void.

The network already has broadcast agreements with Charter Communications, Comcast and DISH TV and will launch to an estimated 33 million households in the top African-American television markets like Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Los Angeles.

The Leadership Team

Former Republican U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts is chairman of BNC, which is backed financially by business mogul and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

Watts’s previous endeavors include J.C. Watts Companies, a multi-industry holding company headquartered in Washington, D.C.; and Watts Partners, which works with clients to implement business development, communications, government relations and public affairs strategies.

He’s also had a role as a corporate director for a number of major companies, including Dillard’s Department Stores, CSX Corporation and ITC Holdings.

Watts serves as BNC Chairman and visionary. The network has been in the planning stage for many years, said Watts. “I had an Afro when I started this.”

The company’s chief executive officer will be Robert John Brillante, who grew up in the cable business. His father built Florida’s first cable television company, Florida Cable. After graduating from college, Brillante joined the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association , moved from there to Continental Cablevision, before launching the Sunshine Network, which not an affiliate of Fox Sports Net.

The Ownership Team

In addition to Watts, there are a series of small owner-investors in the company, but the major financial backer of BNC is Shahid “Shad” Khan, the owner of 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. Another source referred to the deal as “open-ended,” explaining that “whatever Khan gets involved in, he’s in all the way.”

“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. “My decision to invest was an easy one.”

In addition to the Jaguars, Khan owns England’s Fulham FC soccer team. He is also the lead investor, with his son Tony, in the All Elite Wrestling.

“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.

NBC will be housed just up the road from its major investor, in Tallahassee, Fla. They’re constructing a new 20,000 sq. ft. facility

HBCU Connection

Owners of the nation’s first 24-hour video news network for African-American viewers, joined Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) administrators at the university for a ribbon-cutting to unveil plans for its new headquarters and launch date in 2018. The Black Television News Channel (BTNC) will be the first 4K Ultra HD newsgathering and production infrastructure of its kind.

During the event, Byron Pitts, chief national correspondent and Nightline co-anchor at ABC News, announced that he would join the new network as a contributor while continuing his role at ABC.

“I am proud to be a part of this historic venture,” Pitts said. “And I want to thank the Black journalists that came before me and those that will come after me for creating a space, to tell the truth and honor the truths of people of color that have often been ignored.”

The BTNC will house its principle operations within the 100,000-square-foot School of Journalism & Graphic Communication facility on FAMU’s campus.

“This partnership is not only unprecedented change, it’s game-changing,” said FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “I believe this partnership will be among those that will be chronicled in history in terms of allowing us to reach a larger spectrum of individuals to tell them more about their own culture and perspective that they can appreciate.”

Other features of BTNC’s future operations include a media-training center for aspiring multimedia and visual communicators, including FAMU students and students at other historically Black colleges and universities nationwide.

Network Programming

What can you expect to see on BNC?

Sports BNC’s weekly sports programs will feature teams and activities on the campuses of America’s Historical Black Colleges & Universities. Studio shows will include:

“Being a Woman,” a daily one-hour hosted talk show is dedicated to topics of interest to women of all ages.

“My America” a weekly one-hour talk show will be hosted by Watts and look at global issues that affect today’s African American communities.

“Getting Ready With Jane: Today’s Teen” features family therapist Jane Marks.

“My Money” will examine best practices for wisely making and managing your money.

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Bonita Gooch

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

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