Black News Channel to launch Monday as first to target Black audience

“Black News Channel weekday anchors inside BNC’s state-of-the-art news studio. Left to right: Lauren McCoy, Kevan Smith, Fred Hickman, Laverne McGee, Anthony Amey, and Rarione Maniece Photo: BNC

The nation’s first news channel that focuses on the black community is scheduled to launch Monday, Feb. 10.

Black News Channel will offer original programming “created by people of color for people of color,” its website says.

Black News Channel is spearheaded by J.C. Watts, a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma. It’s a project that Watts has been working on for more than a decade, with several false starts. It was previously slated to launch on Nov. 15 and then Jan. 6.

Former football player and Republican congressman J.C. Watts (in a 2006 file photo) has reportedly worked for more than a decade to get Black News Channel to launch.

But now BNC, as the channel is already calling itself, is set to reach viewers through Spectrum, Xfinity X1 and Dish, with plans to add Sling, Vizio Smart TVs, Xumo and Roku Channel. Comcast and Dish describe their offering of BNC as a “subscription video-on-demand service,” according to USA Today.

BNC says it will be able to reach more than 100 million homes.

Gary Wordlaw, BNC’s vice president of news and programming, said the channel will not be partisan in an interview with The Baltimore Sun last week.

“At 6 a.m. on February the 10th, we’re going to give the nation a look at the black community that has not been seen on any other network,” Wordlaw said. “Our mission is to illuminate and to tell the truth. We’re not partisan. We’re not political. We’re journalists. And we want to give good stories from the peoples’ perspective. We should be the peoples’ network.”

Programming will include a weekly news show with “60 Minutes” alum Byron Pitts, a weekly talk show hosted by Watts, sports shows focused on world basketball and combat sports and a weekly focus on historically black colleges and universities.

Wordlaw said the channel plans to develop a talent pipeline with HBCUs in the future.

“We’re airing a weekly program called ‘HBCU Today.’ We’ve invited the colleges to send the best reports by their students, and we’re going to air them on the network,” Wordlaw said.