TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The first ever 24 hour cable news network established “by black people for black people” launched on Monday.
The Black News Channel (BNC) said it seeks to provide African American viewers with news and information relevant to their lives.
"Black News Channel's purpose is to be a news organization that gives voice to the varied experiences, issues, points-of-view and priorities that matter to African Americans," the network said. "BNC will not just tell a story, but the network will tell the entire story."
The media company said up until now there has been a significant void when it comes to providing African America viewers news content that is tailored to their needs and interests.
Gary Wordlaw, BNC's vice president of programming and news called it "culturally specific branding of the news." He said research showed that the African American community as a whole has felt it's been undeserved by mainstream media and has been looking for a niche for themselves. "We're here to fill it," Wordlaw told KTVU.
The independent network will feature black anchors, with its programming aimed at providing content described as being "informative, educational, inspiring and empowering to its African American audience," BNC said.
The channel said it will also have a star-studded lineup, including a weekly news show hosted by veteran journalist Byron Pitts.
Veteran journalist Byron Pitts will host a weekly news show on BNC, according to the network.
In addition to news, programs will cover finance and money matters, teen and family issues, topics centered on interests of women of all ages, and other original shows geared toward the channel's African American viewership. The channel is also working with the Historical Black Colleges & Universities to create content.
The network's leadership team is predominantly black. Co-founder, J.C. Watts, is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma and will also be hosting a one hour talk show.
Watts has said that the network will not be a liberal or conservative outlet, and will rather seek to provide nonpartisan coverage, as it tackles issues that affect the black community.
The goals identified by BNC include providing voice to an undeserved community, engaging African American viewers in social, economic and political discussions, and showcasing achievements in the community to create positive role models for black youth.
As part of its launch, the network said it rolled out in the top African American TV markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
The Bay Area was among the markets set to get access to the channel starting Monday, but technical issues with Comast led to delays, according to Wordlaw, who added that teams are diligently working on the glitch and hope to resolve the problem soon.
The channel will be available for subscribers using Dish, Xfinity X1, and Spectrum. BNC plans on branching out on other platforms, including Vizio Smart TV's, Sling, and the Roku Channel.
Wordlaw said that by the time the network completes rolling out in all of its markets this month, BNC is expected to reach an estimated 80-90 million viewers.
This story was reported in Oakland, Calif.