BET Unveils Election Coverage Plans

BET Networks will provide unprecedented multiplatform coverage of the 2008 presidential election, including extensive reporting from both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the network announced Wednesday.

As part of its coverage, BET will launch on Aug. 15 a new weekly talk show, The Truth With Jeff Johnson, which will focus on the Democratic National Convention as well as other issues facing the African-American community, according to BET president of entertainment Reginald Hudlin.

“With the launch of The Truth With Jeff Johnson along with all of our other in-depth political coverage, we are providing a unique and necessary perspective on the issues important to the Black community,” Hudlin said. “BET News is committed to informing our audience with the news they can’t get anywhere else, with a diversity of voices and opinions that our audience demands.”

In addition to The Truth, BET will integrate live and pre-taped reports into several existing series such as 106 & Park, Rap City and The Black Carpet during the Aug. 25-28 Democratic Convention in Denver.

The 87-million-subscriber network will also air several news specials throughout the week that will delve into the issues surrounding the election

, including voter disenfranchisement; 10 issues affecting Black America; and the historic journey to the White House of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Also, the network’s The Dream: 45 Years Later news special will examine whether Obama—who is scheduled to make his acceptance speech Aug. 28, the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech—is the manifestation of King’s vision, according to the network.

In addition, the network will televise live the entirety of Obama’s acceptance speech.

On the Web,’s comprehensive Decision ‘08 site will provide up-to-the-minute coverage from both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, including breaking news, photo flipbooks, articles, polls and quizzes. The site will also feature blogs from young people attending the convention. 

“As the leading African American-targeted media company in the world, we have a comprehensive plan in place to reach our influential community of voters both on air and online,” said BET chairman and CEO Debra Lee in a statement. “We’re so proud to give our audience a wealth of information and analysis throughout every step of this historic presidential election, all the while encouraging them to vote and make their voices heard.”

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.