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BET Inches Closer to MTV

3/06/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

Viacom Inc.-owned Black Entertainment Television has eliminated 14 jobs in a restructuring effort to integrate affiliate sales, marketing and advertising sales under MTV Networks, BET said.

Officials from both MTV and BET said the move was not a prelude to folding the separately run African-American targeted network completely into the MTVN tent.

BET senior vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Donovan Gordon will shift to New York from Washington, D.C., and report to both MTV Networks executive vice president of cable distribution and marketing Peter Low and BET chief operating officer Debra Lee.

The 14 employees — less than 4% of BET’s work force — can pursue open positions at BET and within Viacom.

BET will now be packaged with others from the MTV Networks stable, but Low said that won’t yield discernible discounts from BET’s current rate card, which Kagan Associates pegs at 13 cents per subscriber.

“We’re going to talk to operators about carriage of BET and what those financial terms are will not be much different than they’ve ever been,” he said.

MTVN’s affiliate-relations muscle already has aided BET, which extended carriage on EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network as part of a new overall carriage agreement.

When Viacom bought BET in 2000, BET chairman Robert Johnson insisted the network remain independent. Johnson’s contract with Viacom expires this year, but Lee said there are no plans to eventually cede programming and marketing efforts to MTVN.

“MTV is very committed to keeping BET a separate entity,” Low said.

BET also promoted Steven Hill to executive vice president of entertainment and music programming; Michael Lewellen to senior VP of corporate communications; and Matthew Barnhill to senior VP of market research.

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