By BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan disclosed Wednesday that he will be the majority investor in the nation’s only 24-hour news network aimed at African American viewers, telling The Associated Press he wants to help meet the need of an underserved community.
The network has been in the works for years and an announcement about next month’s launch was made earlier this year. Khan’s backing gives the channel important capital to ensure it will be a long-term venture. He declined to say how much he would invest initially but said it would be “significant, and frankly, it’s open-ended.”
“I am a big believer in the fact that we have a number of communities, obviously especially the African American, who are underserved,” Khan said in a phone interview. “We know the mission, but I’m hoping that as time goes on this becomes a bridge to connect all the cultures, including obviously south Asian, which I am. This is a great worthwhile cause. I want to see it happen.”
Former Republican U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, who was a star quarterback at the University of Oklahoma in the 1980s, will be chairman of the new network. It will be available via cable and satellite viewers in 33 million households.
“When Shad and I were kids, they had three networks in the U.S. and today you have venues that you can speak to every demographic in the country in terms of news, but if you look at the African American community there’s no venue for the African American community to have a dialogue to talk about cultural things … or news in general,” Watts said in the conference call with Khan. “This platform will create that, and we’re tickled that Shad has chosen to come alongside us and walk with us in this effort.”
The network has agreements with Charter Communications, Comcast and DISH and will be carried in major African American markets such as New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago and Los Angeles. The network is to begin broadcasting in November and will be based in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, with bureaus around the country, Watts said.