BET Drops Late-Night Host

Black Entertainment Television confirmed late Wednesday that it would not
renew the contract of popular late-night TV host Tavis Smiley of BET Tonight
with Tavis Smiley
. His contract is set to
run through September.

The news reportedly broke on a syndicated radio program, The Tom Joyner
Morning Show
, Wednesday morning.

The decision drew public outcry in newspapers such as The Washington
and the New York Post

In a small link on the Web site,
viewers are asked to call 1-800-711-1630 with comments about the decision. An
operator answering the phone Thursday said she couldn't say whether the network
might reconsider the Smiley decision if enough viewers asked BET to keep him

In a statement, BET said the move not to renew Smiley's contract 'was a
creative decision made by BET as part of our regular planning process for the
new season debuting in September,' adding that the network plans to add a new
BET News division.

Viacom Inc. closed its deal to acquire BET in January.

News broke earlier this week that BET was cutting 50
staff jobs.