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Southern-Flavored African-American Digi-Net Preps For Q1 Launch

Soul of the South, a 24-hour broadcast network targeting African-American viewers in the south, aims to launch in the first quarter of 2012.

It will offer entertainment and sports, and hopes to set itself apart in the increasingly crowded African-American space with five hours of live news a day -- and with its southern U.S. focus.

"I'm so proud to lead the launch of Soul of the South, which will be the first broadcast network to speak directly to the lives and values of the more than 20 million African-Americans living in the South," says Edwin V. Avent, chairman/CEO of Soul of the South. "We have met with stations in over 50 markets during our road show across the South and they are all excited by our concept of a regional African-American television network."

A Soul of the South rep says the network has stations from several groups signed up, but would not say which.

Broadcasters are pushing hard for the African-American audience. The digital channel Bounce TV launched this past fall. Based in Atlanta, it airs movies, sports, off-net series and original programming aimed at African-Americans 25-54, and has signed up station partners at a steady clip since Raycom agreed to air it in 26 markets.

Soul's founders say there's a need for news geared toward African Americans.

"We live in a time when we have an African-American president and an African-American Republican frontrunner, yet we do not have a single African-American anchor on any of the nightly broadcast news shows," says co-founder and executive vice president of business development Carl McCaskill. "We see this as an opportunity. We will fill that void with five hours of daily news, with African-American news anchors and reporters at the helm and with a fresh perspective on everyday African-American life in the South."

Soul of the South is based in Little Rock. Its president is Larry Morton, co-founder of the digital network Retro TV, now RTV.