BET Cuts Jobs, News Shows

Black Entertainment Television said Thursday that it will lay off 40
employees and cancel several of its original news and public-affairs shows,
including BET Tonight with Ed Gordon.

Effective immediately, BET will cut 12 percent of its 350-person work force
as part of an "organizational restructuring" that will see the network become
more aggressive in acquiring syndicated programming and creating joint
programming ventures for the network.

As part of the restructuring, network sources said, BET has canceled two of
its regular news shows, Lead Story and BET Tonight, as well as
teen-targeted public-affairs show Teen Summit and music-video show
Cita's World.

Lead Story and BET Tonight were centerpieces of the network's
enhanced news division, which has been boosted by a partnership with CBS News. A
third news program, BET Nightly News, will remain intact,
according to sources.

In a prepared statement, BET president and chief operating officer Debra Lee
said the network's new focus "required us to examine our entire corporate
structure and get a better sense of the size and scope of organization we need
moving forward."

She added, "It's always difficult to lose people as part of the business
process, but these changes are our effort to support our new programming
direction at BET."

Three weeks ago, executive vice president of entertainment programming Curtis
Gadson left BET as part of its new programming strategy.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.