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.
Photo: Getty Images

Did it really take a former Republican congressman to finally launch the first black news network?

Apparently so.

He’s a former professional football player, too. If that matters.

The groundbreaking Black News Channel — the same one that The Root’s very own Michael Harriot wrote “looks pretty conservative” last year — will finally hit television screens across the country.

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Spearheaded by J.C. Watts, the nation’s first news channel focusing on the black community is scheduled to launch nationally Feb. 10.

Watts played for the Canadian Football League for five years during the 1980s before becoming a Republican Congressman representing Oklahoma’s fourth district.

He reportedly has been working on the channel for more than a decade, with several false starts, Fox News reported.

Serving as BNC’s Chairman and recognized as a co-founder, Watts will also host his own weekly talk show.

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“I have traveled around the country participating in interviews, serving on panel discussions, and sharing BNC’s mission and commitment to telling a more complete story of the African American community,” Watts, Jr. said. “There is growing interest and anticipation about the Black News Channel, as well as a palpable level of excitement about our launch”

Previously slated to launch on Nov. 15 and then Jan. 6, the national rollout has an aim to reach 100 million households through Spectrum, Xfinity X1, and Dish, with plans to add Sling, Vizio Smart TVs, Xumo and Roku Channel, among others.

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“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
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“The launch of Black News Channel will be not only historic, but also transformational,” CEO and co-founder Bob Brillante said. “We will shed more light on the stories that demonstrate our commonality, rather than those that highlight our differences.”

BNC’s programming lineup includes a weekly news show with 60 Minutes alum Byron Pitts, sports shows focused on basketball and combat sports, and a weekly focus on historically black colleges and universities.

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!

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