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Johnson Defends BET's Programming

Black Entertainment Television CEO Robert Johnson last week refuted claims
from competitors that the network only caters to 18- through 24-year-olds.

Johnson, speaking last Thursday at a Starcom MediaVest Group advertising
meeting in Chicago, countered claims made by upstart network TV One that BET
doesn't effectively serve older African-American audiences.

TV One, an African-American-targeted network owned by Comcast Corp. and Radio
One Inc., has stated through its marketing and promotional materials that BET's
programming -- largely music-video-themed shows -- doesn't adequately serve
older viewers.

BET has been criticized over the years by some within the African-American
community for its reliance on music-video programming. Last December, the
network took some hits for cutting several of its public-affairs programs, which
tend to resonate more with older viewers.

But Johnson said BET ranks first among all cable networks in serving
African-American adults 18-34 and 18-49 in total-day and primetime viewing. He
added that TV One's allegations were a "poor means" of tying to make a case for
its service.

"BET has never shied from competition," Johnson said. "Even with the myriad
of choices in television and off-network entertainment, I'm happy to say that
BET is still the No. 1 destination . and we have no plans of relinquishing that
position anytime soon."

Representatives from TV One could not be reached for comment by press
time.

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.