Johnson Defends BET's Programming

6/23/2003 5:33 AM Eastern

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

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