Cable News Expands to Include More Black Voices with Black News Channel

As the world of cable TV news becomes increasingly fragmented, BNC (Black News Channel) is promising to deliver an alternative news source that looks at breaking news stories through the eyes of Black Americans when it relaunches in March 2021.

In a Wall Street Journal exclusive, reporter Lillian Rizzo writes that “Black News Channel has expanded its reach more than 20-fold in about seven months, part of its new chief executive’s ambitious plan to shake up the cable-TV news landscape.”

According to Rizzo, BNC’s Chief Executive Princell Hair has already established distribution deals with Comcast Corp.’s Xfinity, AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV, Dish Network Corp. and others, creating a potential audience for the channel of more than 52 million households. Comcast NBCUniversal ranked No. 7 on the Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020 and AT&T is a Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.

“Black News Channel is largely backed by NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who also owns Fulham F.C. of the English Premier League,” said Rizzo. Khan co-founded the channel with former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts in the mid-2010s although the channel didn’t launch officially until 2020 following a delay from an earlier planned debut in 2019. 

Programs on BNC will focus around “long-form interviews and segments about social justice, personal health and economic wellness specific to the Black community.” The channel has already signed several high-profile personalities including The New York Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow, activist Marc Lamont Hill, veteran news anchor Sharon Reed and Fox Sports personality Mike Hill.

In explaining his decision to lead the channel, Hair pointed to research showing that Black Americans often feel underserved with existing news coverage choices.

“We’re standing on the forefront of a tremendous opportunity when you look at the stories of the past year: the pandemic, the George Floyd murder and the ensuing civil unrest, a very contentious presidential election, record unemployment and all of these stories disproportionately impact Black and brown communities,” Mr. Hair said in an interview with Rizzo. “These are the stories that we have to get out.”

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