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Comcast To Launch New Black News Network

Washington D.C.-based Black Television News Channel (BTNC) announced Tuesday it has reached a multi-year carriage agreement with Comcast Cable for distribution in several of the MSO’s urban-based systems beginning in 2009.

The network, created by former U.S. congressman J.C. Watts Jr., will launch in 2009 and will provide original news programming with a distinctively African-American perspective, according to a network press release.

The network would be the first cable service to offer 24-hour news targeted to African-Americans. Prior attempts to launch a full-time news channel have failed, mostly due to the high cost of developing news. Neither African-American targeted Black Entertainment Television nor TV One offer daily news shows, instead relying on short news briefs throughout the day.

“Our unique and vast content partnerships with African American newsmakers will provide our viewers live access to the stories and people in whom our viewers have a special interest,” said Watts in a statement. “With this agreement, Comcast continues to demonstrate its commitment to working with independent programmers with diverse points of view.”

Comcast representatives could not be reached for comment at press time.

R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.