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Black Entertainment Television (commonly referred to by its acronym B.E.T.) is an American cable network based in Washington D.C.marker, and targets young African-American audiences. Robert L. Johnson founded the network in 1980. Most programming of the network comprises mainstream rap and R&B music videos and urban-oriented movies and series.

Its urban music programming includes 106 & Park, a show taped before a live audience counting down the top videos requested by viewers and inviting rap and R&B artists to promote their music. The Deal is BET's flagship program for rap music, and the network also regularly shows a block of R&B videos under the banner BET Now. BET has been the target of criticism and protests for broadcasting videos that are accused of promoting immorality. Additionally, the channel shows syndicated television series, original programs, and some public affairs programs. On Sunday mornings, BET broadcasts a lineup of network-produced Christian programming; other, non-affiliated Christian programs are also shown during the early morning hours daily.

History

After stepping down as a lobbyist for the cable industry, Philadelphian Robert L. Johnson decided to launch his own cable television network. Johnson would soon acquire a loan for $15,000, and earned a $500,000 investment from John Malone to start the network. With the fundings, Johnson needed a niche audience to build ratings, so he chose the African-American audience and named his channel Black Entertainment Television. BET began broadcasting as a block on January 25, 1980.

Initially, the network lineup consisted of music videos, original programs (see Original Series) and reruns of popular black sitcoms. BET was mostly controlled by Johnson, who held 90%, while John Malone held the remaining 10%. Due to recently starting, and low rating, at the time, BET was losing money, but in 1985–1986, things turned around for the young channel. Network president Reginald Huldin resigned on September 11, 2008.

Sister networks

The spin off channel BETJ, originally called BET On Jazz (later BET Jazz), aired from the late 1990 until the fall of 2009. Programs on it included My Two Cents with Keith Boykin, Bryonn Bain, Crystal McCreary Anthony and Staceyann Chin, The Best Shorts hosted by Abiola Abrams, Living the Life of Marley about Ky-Mani Marley, My Model is Better Than Your Model with Eva Pigford and The Turn On hosted by Charlotte Burley.

On September 28, 2009 BETJ was renamed to Centric. It features music, movies, reality shows and specials for adults. It is confirmed to show reruns of Soul Train and on November 29, The Soul Train Awards will make a return. They are in talks to have a new "Soul Train" next year (2010).

Competitors

BET's success, and the controversy over its content, has spawned a few smaller competitors aiming toward the African-American market. Although some like NUE TV and Black Family Channel (formerly MBC) had little success, others like TV One have thrived and succeeded, mostly by eschewing BET's music-based programming for more family-oriented fare. However these networks are mostly watched by older African-Americans and BET continues to be mostly watched by the youth. A possible new arrival to Internet TV and broadcasting, The African American Channel, is making an attempt to enter the picture. Broadcasting and Cable magazine pointed out that The African American Channel could become a competitor of BET and others such as Black Family Channel and TV One in the not-so-distant future. In 2008, rapper Master P, who claims to have a "great relationship with BET", announced the launch of Better Black Television, which he intended to meet "consumer demand for family friendly hip-hop content".

International

BET UK

BET UK first transmitted on Videotron (now known as Virgin Media) and several other cable networks from 1993 up until 1996.

In May 2007 by Ofcommarker, BET International Inc was given a license to re-broadcast in the United Kingdom. BET UK is the first international version of the channel.

BET is available on Sky Digital Channel 191 after launching on Wednesday 27 February 2008 and on Freesat Channel 140 after launching on August 8. BET+1 is also available on Sky channel 198 and Freesat channel 141, and is Free-to-air. BET UK shows a mix of content from the main BET channel and locally produced shows.An exclusive HD version of the channel was made to show the BET Awards 2009 on Freesat EPG 142

Canada

BET became available in Canada in October 1997 on most cable and satellite carriers. The Canadian feed is the same as the American feed, though sitcoms and films with rights belonging to other parties in Canada are replaced with a block of music videos without a BET logo appearing on-screen.

Criticism/controversies

Public Enemy rapper Chuck D, journalist George Curry, writer Keith Boykin, comic book creator Christopher Priest, filmmaker Spike Lee and cartoonist Aaron McGruder (who, in addition to numerous critical references throughout his series, The Boondocks, made a particular episode criticizing the channel), all have protested BET's programming and actions. As a result, BET heavily censors suggestive content from the videos that it airs, often with entire verses removed from certain rap videos.The channel also censors some of the programming it shows. Profanity such as words like "bitch" are often censored. "Enough is Enough" is a group led by the Reverend Delman Coates that has devoted much time to protesting BET under the grounds that much of BET's hip-hop videos are degrading. It backed an April 2008 report titled The Rap on Rap by the Parents Television Council that claimed that BET rap programming, which they believed contained gratuitously sexual, violent, and profane content, was targeting children and teens. Furthermore, scholars within the African American community maintain that BET perpetuates and justifies racism by affecting the interpersonal beliefs others may generalize about African Americans, and also by affecting the psyche of its young viewers through its bombardment of negative images of African Americans.

Original series

See also

Notes

  1. BET, MTVN Unveil Centric - Soft Launch For Network Aimed At African-American Adults, MultiChannel News, September 28, 2009
  2. http://madnews.wordpress.com/2007/12/30/hello-world
  3. Zap2it - TV news - Spike Lee Dismisses BET
  4. http://www.racewire.org/archives/2008/06/bet_vs_boondocks.html


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