Hope it’s all us with no YT spin….
J.C. Watts, the former congressman and businessman, plans on delivering a non-entertainment television network, Black News Channel, geared towards African Americans before the end of the year. Specifically, he’s planning to launch on November 15.
Watts told Lee Bailey in a recent phone interview that the network, airing on Comcast, Charter Communications/Spectrum and Dish Network, has been 10 years in the making.
“We’ve been working on this for some time,” said Watts, chairman and co-founder of the network. “We had carriage (cable companies that agreed to carry the channel) and lost our funding due to the downturn in 2008 and lost an investor, who was killed. One thing led to another. Finally, we kept chopping away at it and carriage and funding reconciled and we’re going to launch November 15th of this year.”
Having black news is not a new concept. While BET and TV One have news specials on their networks, both have tried daily news programs without much success. Watts said there’s a huge difference between his channel, based in Tallahassee, Florida, and the other black channels.
“Their model is not news,” said Watts. “Their business model is entertainment. TV One had about an hour-long news show and BET had a news segment at one time. Several times. But their business model is black entertainment television.”
He continued, “We will be hard news from six in the morning to nine at night and we’ll have some shows scattered throughout that will be current affairs. On weekends, shows will have a magazine format. But our business model is news.”
The Eufaula, Oklahoma native makes no bones about reporting on stories of particular interest to African Americans.
“I think consciously or unconsciously, people occasionally want to see people that look like them,” Watts said. “On CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, no disrespect to them, you’re not going to hear them talk about Sickle Cell Anemia (which disproportionately affects African Americans). They won’t give a large news segment on HBCUs or African American hair care products, so forth and so on.”
He added, “The press often paints a picture of the black community that we’re just entertainment and athletics. Do I fault them for showing an 18-something young man that happens to be black, in handcuffs, and then taken off to jail? No, I don’t blame them for putting that on the news.”
“For every young man you show me in handcuffs going to jail for drugs or for whatever reason, I can show you 50 that get up every day trying to figure out how to make their mother proud of them, “said Watts. “We don’t see much of that. I think the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, needs to be told and we will have a platform to do that.”
While polls consistently show that African Americans are over ninety percent Democrat, some may question Watts’ sincerity because he served as a Republican congressman from 1995 to 2003.
Some may even do a double take with conservative radio talk show host/syndicated columnist and Trump supporter Larry Elder listed as a show host/commentator on the Black News Channel’s website. However, Watts said he plans to keep partisan politics off his network.
“I remember when we first started this, we had a conservative group kicking us on the shin, wondering why we need a black news channel,” said Watts. “What is blacks news? We’re not starting a news channel to be Republican or Democrat.”
He continued, “One of the concerns I have, and I majored in journalism, those news stations that are left-leaning or right-leaning, you notice who they talk to. They have Democrats talking to left-leaning analysts and the right-leaning talk to right-leaning analysts. But they are usually journalists. Obviously, we’ll be talking to some journalists, but I want to talk to the people in the trenches. I want to talk to the newsmakers”
The Black News Channel will start off with news bureaus in Atlanta, D.C., and New York. The channel is expected to launch with 33 million African American households, including New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. The network also intends to have a digital format soon.
If you want more information on the Black News Channel, are interested in working for the network and/or doing an internship, go to the website, here.
Hear JC Watts Speak on how the Motherland influenced him to create the BNC and how his research informed his programming decisions for the network: