BET's Gadson Out

Black Entertainment Television Wednesday announced that executive vice
president of entertainment programming Curtis Gadson will leave the network to consider
"other options" as the network shifts its primetime programming strategy toward
the acquisition of syndicated and off-network programming.

As first reported two weeks ago by Multichannel News, Gadson is
leaving the company -- according to BET -- "to consider other options within
parent company Viacom [Inc.] or to possibly launch an independent production company."

Sources said, however, that Gadson -- who spent a decade at BET and was
responsible for several of the network's signature shows, including BET Walk
of Fame
and The BET Awards -- had a falling out with president
and chief operating officer Debra Lee over the network's future programming direction.

Indeed, Gadson's departure is tied to an overall programming-strategy shift
for the network that will place a greater emphasis on the acquisition of
syndicated programming, according to Lee.

BET spokesman Michael Llewellen said no programming deals are in place, but
he added that the network "wants to be in a position to pursue" syndicated inventory
from several outlets, including broadcast and cable entities.

In the past, BET has talked about utilizing its synergistic ties with parent
Viacom to obtain programming from sister services like Showtime's Soul

The move comes amid BET's efforts in recent years to move away from the
music-video programming that dominated its primetime lineup and was a source of
criticism from viewers and industry observers.

BET VP of music programming Stephen Hill, VP
of network operations Gina Holland and VP of sports and specials
Jacque Coleman will manage the entertainment-programming division until a
successor to Gadson is found, BET said.

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.