Impact Network Strives to Change the Face of Black TV
African Americans watch more TV than any other demographic, clocking in 2 hours more per day than the national average. Perhaps that explains the tide of unscripted shows aimed at black audiences such “Basketball Wives”, “Real House Wives of Atlanta”, and “Vince and Tamar”—shows that have been criticized for their less than flattering portrayals of black culture.
Oxygen’s recent plans to launch a series following a rapper who fathered 11 children by 10 different women were halted after public outrage.
Wholesome black reality series, such as WE tv’s “Mary Mary” or OWN’s “Six Little McGhees” which portrays black families positively seem to be the exception.
Impact Network has been working against that tide by operating in what Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, who along with wife Dr. Beverly Jackson, founded the network calls “a Godly, moral atmosphere of programming.”
Hailing it as the “only Christian, African American founded and run Christian Network in the nation,” Jackson told blog talk radio host Karen L. Donald of Konversation with Karen that he saw the break down in respect within the community as a direct result of the content put out by the mainstream media.
The name Impact Network is derived from the founders’ desire to “impact the whole man”—to have an effect on viewers’ whole lives.
“We’re just not always entertaining them,” says Lewis Gibbs, Vice-President for the network, “but a lot of times tell them some of the good things they could be involved in to help better their community. That’s one of the positive influences with a Christian television network, and one of the positive things that we will strive to do at the Impact Network.”
Currently in about 20 million homes via Dish Network and Comcast, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Gibbs.
For instance, “We carried some of the Church Of God In Christ Holy convocation. Our audience said, ‘Oh, I couldn’t make it to St. Louis. I loved seeing that.’ ”
One of the most successful series on the network is “Good News with Greg Davis,” which covers current events, entertainments, finance and more.
Gibbs explains, “Sometime people say, ‘Hey, I’d really like to have a program that speaks to my teens. It’s tough being a teen these days with the peer pressure and I’d love to have a program that speaks to their needs in this area.’ So that’s some of the things that ‘Great News with Greg Davis’ does. It speaks to the specific needs of teens.”
Then there’s “Impact Today with Bishop Wayne T Jackson.”
“[Jackson] interviews one-on-one some of the people in the community, some of the bishops and pastors out here, to find out what they’re doing in their congregation and how they’re impacting their community, ” says Jackson. “That program has really seen great strides.”
“The nice thing about it,” says Gibbs, “ is when you’re focused and know who you’re trying to reach, you’re able to have more centered programs that really can speak to your audience. With it being African American primarily focused and with it being Christian-based, we’re able to really target some of the things we really want to do.”
Also important to the network is developing talent that might go overlooked or underappreciated in mainstream media and make an application available for individuals with wholesome program interested in partnering with Impact to get their material aired.
Gibbs, who signed on as vice-president just a few months ago after a long career with Word Network, says he’s look forward to expanding the network’s coverage, making it available for more homes.
“We’re focused in delivering programming that meets the needs of our targeted audience,” says Gibbs, “enriching programs that will really help nurture the African American fiber and spirit.”