Black News Channel looks to shake up US cable TV

Image source, Black News Channel
Image caption, Black News Channel weekday presenters in their Tallahassee studio

The first US national news channel to cater to African-American viewers has launched in Florida.

The Black News Channel (BNC) will cover news "culturally specific to the African American community", said the new cable news network.

The BNC said it planned to target the "image gap" in negative black stereotypes depicted in the media.

Network executives said BNC - which hopes to reach 100 million viewers - would not be politically partisan.

The 24/7 channel - which went to air on Monday - plans to offer original programming "created by people of colour for people of colour", its website says.

The BNC will be run by JC Watts, a black former Republican congressman for Oklahoma and former professional football player, and Bob Brillante, a white TV executive.

Image source, BNC

Mr Watts has said the network would not be ideologically driven.

John Marks, the former Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, where the network is based, will also be part of the management team.

The top investor in the project is Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team and Fulham FC of the English Football League.

"We're not looking to be Republican or Democrat," Mr Watts told the Associated Press in October.

"Obviously, there will be current affairs, but we are culturally specific to the African American community.

"MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, they may have African American faces on their news shows, but they are not necessarily covering the community from a cultural perspective."

African-American media has historically played an important role in the struggle for US civil rights and equality.

But like the wider US news media landscape at a time of consolidation, declining ad revenue and the growth of social platforms, it faces challenges.

Printing presses stopped rolling last summer at the 115-year-old Chicago Defender newspaper, which once featured famed 19th Century abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

That closure came in the same month that Ebony magazine, founded in 1972, folded amid bankruptcy struggles.