The founder of BET, a entertainment network for African-Americans, is calling out Oprah Winfrey on her new startup, OWN, otherwise known as the Oprah Winfrey Network. Sheila Johnson believes that the media mogul is not doing enough to encourage diversity on-air.
Johnson passed on some words of wisdom to Winfrey in a recent interview with NPR’s Michael Martin, who commented on the lack of diversity in the network.
“The only advice that I say, let’s open up your circle a little bit more. You know, we love the Dr. Phils. We love the Suze Ormans,” Johnson said. “Let’s open up. There are other people. And there’s also African-American experts out there that I think she should start bringing on her show that can reach even a wider audience.”
Outside of the debut of Oprah’s best friend Gayle King’s television show and a few appearances by minorities in “Master Class”, there is indeed a lack of diverse talent currently on air at ‘OWN’, which is currently led by CEO Christina Norman. Norman, an African-American woman, served as the former president of Viacom, which now owns BET.
It is questionable on whether or not Johnson’s comments are fair. Although the creation of BET is a success story on its own, the African-American has become increasingly wary of the network, especially after the buildup of the CEOs’ own wealth with BET programming that has been criticized as misogynistic, disparaging, and no longer black owned.