BBC to launch first black TV news

The BBC's first news and current affairs programme specifically for black viewers goes on air next month.

The series, Black Britain, is being made by a team which is based alongside the BBC's other heavyweight current affairs programmes, including Panorama, in west London.

It comes 18 months after an internal report, "People and Programmes", warned that the corporation was in danger of losing its black audience. It was viewed as white, middle-class and less palatable than alternatives, the research found.

At its launch yesterday, Mark Damazer, head of BBC News weekly programmes, said Black Britain was an "overdue attempt to recognise the interests and concerns of black people in the UK, many of whom at the moment feel that our other programmes do not adequately reflect their varied lives."

The series will be fronted by Rianna Scipio, television's first black weather presenter, with reporters including Clive Myrie and Donu Kogbara. The focus will be on news, but will also cover sport, the arts and entertainment. There will be regular reports from around the world.

Patrick Younge, the producer, said: "The days of lumping all black people together as a single group are long gone. The community is extremely diverse, split by gender, ethnicity and class and this programme aims to reflect that."

Research for the "People and Programmes" report showed African-Caribbeans and Asians wanted to see more news on television and radio, especially about their own communities. It found that BBC programmes targeted at black audiences had been less successful than efforts for the Asian community.

Black Britain goes on air on Tuesday, 9 July, at 7.30pm.

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