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BET Adds Four for Fall

Black Entertainment Television plans to add four new nonscripted shows for fall, the network told advertisers at its first-ever upfront presentation Tuesday in New York.

New programs include entertainment news show Style; Speak Now, where celebrities weigh in on issues of the day; On and Off, a look at music stars' professional and personal lives; and  music show BET Concert Series. College Hill, a Real World-type reality show set at a black college, will be back for a second season.

The network's larger agenda, though, was emphasizing BET's mass appeal to African American viewers. 

BET has been criticized for relying too much on younger-skewing music programming and not offering enough for older viewers.  BET ad sales chief Louis Carr counters that the channel is the top-rated network in weekday prime for African American adults in the three key demos, 18-34-year-olds, 18-49, and 25-54.

BET says programming like off-net drama Soul Food, gospel shows, the BET Nightly News and movies cater to older viewers.

For the first time, BET is going into the upfront with direct competition in the form of TV One, co-owned by Comcast and Radio One. TV One, aimed at African American adults, just launched last January and is still building its distribution. BET reaches 78 million homes.