NEW YORK — An Atlanta-based cable company said Tuesday it plans to launch a 24-hour news channel aimed at black viewers late this year or early in 2004.
Major Broadcasting Cable Network, best known for airing the football and basketball games of black colleges, will call its new sister network "MBC News: The Urban Voice."
The plans were announced two months after the much more established Black Entertainment Television announced a sharp cutback in its public affairs programming. Willie Gary, a principal of MBC, said the timing is coincidental.
"We didn't plan it that way," Gary said. "But clearly, it's a void there from the African American perspective that we will be filling."
MBC News, which will be modeled on CNN Headline News, has hired former CNN newsman Gordon Graham. It will show news, sports and weather reports on a 30-minute "wheel," with occasional other programming.
With limited room for more channels on cable systems, the news network will face an uphill battle to survive. The 4-year-old main MBC network claims it is seen in 24 million homes -- less than a quarter of the nation's TV households. MBC isn't available in New York, but can be seen in Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Houston.