TV One Looks to ‘Represent’ African-American Community

by Marc Berman  |  04.20.2017

In an upfront presentation themed to “representing the many facets of black culture,” the focus at TV One is on the news and stories that matter in the African-American community via a combination of original lifestyle, family reality and law enforcement programs. Unlike years past when TV One was particularly bullish on original scripted sitcoms, the emphasis has shifted more to human interest in daytime.

“Last year we rebranded TV One [with] the tagline ‘Represent,” but I think many people did not get what the promises of that brand were,” opened TV One President Brad Siegel. 

“‘Represent’ means TV One is the definition of totally relevant programming that is authentic, that is relatable and that is real. It delivers an authentic narrative of dynamic stories of the people that are diverse within the African American experience. It is an entertaining environment, and it is a gateway for the entire family. But, more importantly, it is built on one promise, which is to represent black culture, past, present and into the future.”

“Now, more than ever, we need to have a voice that is louder and more constructive and represents the African American community,” he added, promising to get the ratings for the network back “to where they should be” by focusing on what is already working.

To enhance that voice, TV One will expand its live morning news, current affairs and lifestyle programming to three hours in third quarter of this year, beginning with an expanded version of News One Now, hosted by Roland S. Smith, from 9-11 a.m. ET. Later, the show will be retitled Black America Today to brand itself as daily destination for issues that matter in the African American community.

The planned third hour of TV One’s morning line-up will feature a new live talk show, hosted by a panel of four women (still to be confirmed) who are described as “dynamic, smart, funny and opinionated.” What sounds like an African-American version of The View will apparently be directly competing with the ABC daytime staple.

“Three hours live is taking us from 310 hours of original programming to 740 original hours during the course of the year,” noted Siegel. “And what is also working for us is our family reality programming. A year-and-a-half ago we launched Ricky Smiley for Real, which has resonated with the audience, and we love the idea of family reality programming. Real family, not contrived, and we expanded that this year when we brought The Manns to the network.”

TV One also will expand its true crime and justice programming block, which is currently featured on Monday evenings. The network will add a second night on Sundays, anchored by season three of For My Man beginning in August. For My Man tells the stories of women who have been arrested for a crime they did in the name of love. 

TV One also will premiere two new limited series: Two Sides of the Truth, narrated and executive produced by recent Oscar winner Viola Davis, which will focus on four high- profile cases; and Evidence of Innocence, which will tell the true stories of individuals who were convicted of crimes they did not commit. President of the National Bar Association Benjamin Crump will host.

“Every other week we hear about these horrific incidents and many of them go unsolved and unresolved,” said Viola Davis in a statement. “We hope that this show can take those headlines and humanize them.”

In the original movie department, three upcoming titles are inspired by musical artists: Who Can I Run To: The Xscape Story, which follows the R&R quartet’s episode of Unsung; The DeBarge Family Story, based on the popular musical family of the 70s and 80s; and Bobbi Kristina, focused on the short and sad life of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s only child.

TV One also will commemorate Black History Month with Behind The Movement: The Rosa Parks Story, inspired by the life of the Civil Rights legend. 

Returning series on TV One include Justice By Any Means, Fatal Attraction, For My Woman and aforementioned Unsung, For My Man and The Manns.

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