NEW YORK (–A Black-owned and operated cable network announced Feb. 11 the launching of the nation’s first 24-hour Black news channel.

“This is a very exciting day,” said attorney William E. Gray, CEO of Atlanta-based Major Broadcasting Cable network (MBC), “not only for MBC, but also for America.”

The show will be called “MBC News: The Urban Voice.” Atty. Gray made the announcement during a press conference held at a mid-town Manhattan hotel.


“A 24-hour Black-owned and operated news channel will bring news from a different perspective to urban communities across the country,” Mr. Gary added. MBC News would have an impact by broadcasting the positive aspects of Black culture, which are too often ignored by other networks, he said.

MBC’s other major owners are former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, former baseball great Cecil G. Fielder, Jackson Five singer Marlon Jackson and broadcast veteran Alvin James. The network was founded in 1998 and achieved basic cable distribution in 1999.

According to a network spokesperson, the service is available in more than 24 million homes, 48 states and 2,400 cities. The news channel will launch in late 2003 or early 2004, according to MBC sources.

Joining Mr. Gary at the press conference were an array of politicians and entertainers such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, actors Clifton Davis and Jeffrey Holder and comedian Chris Tucker.

“For the first time, African American leaders will have their opinions broadcast to our people without any filtering,” Rev. Jackson said. “This will open up new lines of communication to Black communities, and it will empower our communities.”

Rev. Jackson said the creation of MBC News would motivate more Blacks to participate in the political process. He said that when Blacks hear and better understand some of the important issues of the day, more people would be drawn to the polls.

“Even a slight increase in voter participation by African Americans can influence elections and public policy,” Rev. Jackson said.

“I have been in television for 34 years, in front and behind the camera, and I believe in MBC News,” Clifton Davis said. Marlon Jackson called MBC News a monumental achievement for Blacks to own and operate a news network.

“For decades, African American entertainers fought for the right just to be on camera in meaningful roles,” Mr. Jackson observed. “Now we are controlling the cameras. MBC News can shine the spotlight on the many achievements of our people. This is very exciting and it can be a turning point for our nation.”

For the first time, a Black news operation will report, edit, package and present the news 24-hours a day, he said.

MBC will work together with the Florida News Channel to create the infrastructure for the news operation, including production and distribution.

“MBC will have total and complete control of the news content, including the reporting, gathering and editing of the news, and we will help get the news out,” Bob Brillante, managing partner of the Florida News Channel told reporters.