Black Entertainment Television Changes Its Lineup

First it was “˜The Tavis Smiley Show;” then “BET Tonight” and “Midnight Love.” Now BET is canceling its long running public affairs “Nightly News” program The show was hosted by Jacque Reid and is being phased out by the end of the summer.

BET released a statement saying that instead of the “Nightly News” program the network will feature one minute news briefs throughout the day and more special feature programs on news worthy events throughout the year.

BET founder Robert Johnson, has publicly stated that the network is focusing on reaching black viewers in the 18 to 34 age range and he believes that the way to do this is through music video programming like the highly successful countdown show “106 and Park” and younger reality show ideas that have found success on other networks.

Students all across the country however do not share Johnson’s beliefs. In Washington, D.C. several area college students met in December of 2004 at BET offices in D.C. to protest “Uncut” a BET program that often features undressed women in sexually provocative and other demeaning situations in explicit music videos.

Jenae Williams, a University of Maryland student said, “I wish I had participated in the “Cut Uncut” protest because I often turn the television channel away from BET out of disgust and boredom with the show.”

While it seems may seem that BET has been canceling serious news programs and replacing them with explicit music video programs, executives at BET have said that they are doing away with the shows with the lowest ratings. Specifically, the “Uncut” video show is only shown during late night hours, when it is legally permissible and it is believed that only adults are still up to be entertained by the show.

At a recent new conference, Johnson revealed a new lineup of shows for this season that are based on successful models on other networks like NBC’s “Apprentice” and MTV’s “Making the Band.”

“The Ultimate Hustler” is similar to the NBC series “The Apprentice” with an added hip hop flair. Record mogul Damon Dash will be the “Donald Trump-like” leader and give each contestant a Roc-A-Fella pendant that he takes back as contestants are kicked off.

A show imitating “Extreme Makeover” is slated to be called “Remixed.” It is marketed as a black makeover show in which life coaches and stylists improve people in need.

Previews for a show called “Blowing Up Fatty Koo” have already been aired on BET. It is very similar to MTV’s “Making the Band” and focuses on a group of singers and rappers combined to form a group and land a Sony music contract.

During the 2004 Presidential Elections, a new reporter named “Cousin Jeff” began hosting special reports and making appearances on “106 and Park” spreading the importance of voting. This year, BET has picked up his public affairs show, “The Cousin Jeff Chronicles.” Press releases have said that the show focuses on topics like the ‘N’ word and other public affairs that affect the Black community.

This year BET unveiled an entertainment magazine show called “BET Style” hosted by Tigger, formerly of BET’s “Rap City” and model Melyssa Ford. The show airs at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and reports show some good early reviews.

Showtime original series “Soul Food”and UPN’s “Girlfriends” are both owned by BET’s parent company Viacom and are included in BET’s new lineup in syndication.

Last season BET debuted “College Hill” a show similar to MTV’s “The Real World” that centers around the lives of seven students at an HBCU and “Coming to the Stage” a minority reality show based on NBC’s ‘”Last Comic Standing.”

In an associated press article, a BET representative said that the network is interested in developing a nightly music video countdown show, and a late night talk show in future television programming.