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Cable Nets Celebrate MJ’s Birthday

8/29/2009 12:35 AM

Several cable networks over the weekend will mark what would have been music legend Michael Jackson’s 51st birthday on Aug. 29 with a slew of musical specials and documentaries.

Since the King of Pop’s untimely death June 25, cable news and entertainment networks have generated strong ratings for just about any Jackson-related programming, and undoubtedly networks like BET, TV One, E! Entertainment and TV Guide Network — all of which will air special programming around Jackson’s birthday this weekend — are hoping to drum up big audiences once again.

TV Guide Network, which has dedicated nightly news coverage and weekend specials to Jackson since his passing, has seen its third quarter ratings jump by 28 percent versus the same period last year. Over the weekend the network is running a 48-hour marathon of Michael Jackson-related programming beginning Saturday, including the premiere of original specials The Fashion Team: Michael Jackson Style Icon and countdown show Michael Jackson’s 25 Most Outrageous Moments.

E! Entertainment will devote its Saturday lineup to memory of Jackson with several premiere specials, including Forbes Presents Michael Jackson: Where’s the Money? and E! News Special: The Death of Michael Jackson.

BET, which set network ratings records with its June Jackson-themed BET Awards, will premiere three new specials this weekend, including Michael Jackson History: The King Of Pop; Michael Jackson: 10 Things You Didn’t Know and Michael Jackson: Our Icon, featuring exclusive footage from Jackson’s 2007 photo shoot with Ebony Magazine.

BET’s Lee Discusses Jackson’s Legacy from rtumstead on Vimeo.

BET president and CEO Debra Lee said the network is also planning another tribute show to Jackson, who she says played a major role in the success of BET over the years through the airing of his ground-breaking videos as well as his appearances at some of the network’s biggest shows and specials.

Video On Demand music video service Music Choice didn’t wait until Jackson’s birthday to begin the celebration: the service earlier this week began running Jackson’s extensive collections of videos on most of its on demand channels.

Despite the massive coverage devoted to his death over the past two months, it seems viewers and cable networks won’t stop until they get enough of Michael Jackson.