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TCA: BET Steps Up Obama Inauguration Coverage

TCA ’09: Complete Coverage from Broadcasting & Cable

Los Angeles -- Black Entertainment Television is pulling out all the stops in its coverage and celebration of Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration ceremonies.

The African-American-targeted network announced during its Television Critics Association session Saturday an extensive lineup of news coverage, events and specials beginning Jan. 17 and running through inauguration day Jan. 20.

“We’re going to celebrate our country’s new president,” said BET president and CEO Debra Lee during the session, which touted the network’s new reality series Harlem Heights, debuting March 2.

The inauguration festivities will begin Jan. 17 as performers Queen Latifah, Ne-Yo, Anthony Hamilton, Anita Baker, Joss Stone, Yolanda Adams and the Alvin Ailey dance Theater will be performing at the network’s second annual BET Honors show. The event, which honors African-American accomplishments in the entertainment, political and educational fields, will also feature appearances by Terrance Howard, Cedric The Entertainer, Samuel L. Jackson and Hill Harper, according to Lee.

Actor/playwright/Producer Tyler Perry, singer May J. Blige, NBA hall of famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, B. Smith, Judith Jamison and Congressman James E. Clayburn will receive honors during the event, which will air on BET Feb. 9.

On inauguration day, Harper and TV personality Rene Syler will co-anchor BET News’s coverage of the swearing-in ceremony and parade. The network will offer coverage from three locations in WashingtonD.C.

Later that evening, the network will air a one-hour special, Yes We Will! BET’s Inauguration Celebration, hosted by Nick Cannon. BET will also host its first annual Inaugural Ball in partnership with Colin and Alma Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance organization and in support of two local educational institutions.  

Two Obama-themed BET News specials are also on tap for the network and set to air Jan. 19: King To Obama examines Dr. Martin Luther King’s influence on the president-elect; and TheObama Effect, looks at the historical election of America’s first black president through the eyes of a cross-section of Americans.

BET president of programming Loretha Jones said the network will continue to cover Obama’s administration and is considering several news-oriented programming initiatives to that end, but would not reveal specifics.