BET Networks has endured an onslaught of criticism about the nature of its programming. Shows like “BET’s Uncut” and even “Hip Hop Awards,” with the violence that accompanies it, have undermined the network’s alleged mission to portray African-Americans in a positive light. Co-founder Sheila Johnson spoke recently about her disapproval of the programming on the channel, focusing attention on positive shows she worked on like “Teen Summit” and conveniently ignoring “BET’s Uncut” which also aired under her leadership. Johnson joins a long list of critics who have been vocal about their dissatisfaction with the network.

The current CEO, Debra Lee, seemed to address that criticism at a screening of the network’s documentary on President Barack Obama, “Second Coming? Will Black America Decide the 2012 Election” which airs tonight at 9P/8C. She said:

“Over the 28 years I’ve been at BET, we’ve tried different shows, series and nightly news, and it’s always a matter of what are people going to show up to watch. We started a new show last week called Don’t Sleep! With T.J. Holmes, which is supposed to address these kinds of issues. It’s designed to be a mix of entertainment and news and commentary. We hoped it would have been a Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert-type show [...]. To be honest, the ratings haven’t been great in the past two weeks (referring to Holmes’ show). Our audience always says they want this kind of programming, but they don’t show up.”

It’s interesting that Debra Lee would place some degree of responsibility on the audience for the type of content that appears on BET. Surely, the network should hold more accountability for the messages that they send to viewers.

At the same time, the TV audience does hold considerable power. It’s clear that the best way to fight negative stereotypes of black women on shows like VH1′s “Basketball Wives” and “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” for example, is to simply stop tuning into those programs. If more people watched positive programming on BET, would the network embrace it more? What are your thoughts on Debra Lee’s statement, Clutchettes?

  • GeekMommaRants

    It’s one thing to criticize the quality of BET programming. It’s another to ignore non-Rachet programming. In this area, we need to be consistent.

  • Alex Wright

    Listen I watched Dont Sleep and the fact of the matter is it’s basic. It wasn’t funny and it wasn’t that smart. Maybe BET should start shopping for smart scripted original programming. There’s no reason that a show like Scandal or a black version of Nashville or Parenthood couldn’t be on BET

  • Carmesha

    I do agree that viewers have some responsibility to support positive shows if those are the type of shows they would prefer to see, however I also think that the network should try to offer more positive programs during peak viewing hours. For example, Don’t Sleep comes on at 11pm, which (for some) is pretty late for a weeknight. I have watched every episode, but honestly I wouldn’t expect the ratings to be that high given the time slot.

  • TJ Holmes

    It’s not really a comedy show, more of a News show

  • Kam

    They’re complaining about the lack of viewers NOW, but that’s what you get when you’ve turned off a wide swath of people. You’re going to have to get them to come back. I’m sorry but BET created the problem itself by promoting negative behavior and dysfunction as authentic Blackness. It’s going to take a lot more than just creating positive shows. Perhaps one strategy would be to target the young children, then create new positive shows as they grow and build the new BET brand on them. Right now the brand association that BET has with older people is a channel for negative behavior. You’ve got to work on changing the image overall. Maybe even a name change should happen. I’d advise BET to work harder in the marketing department as well.

  • Briana

    I think the onus falls on both. I feel like TV One has quite a bit of positive programming, and they seem to be doing fine, even without all the ratchet nonsense. So if BET offered far more good than bad, I’m sure ppl would still watch.

    However, viewers also need to stop supporting ratchet television if they feel that’s not an accurate portrayal of themselves. The bottom line is, they wouldn’t put it on tv if somebody wasn’t watching it.

  • ?!?

    It’s because a lot of people like trashy TV. BET shouldn’t be surprised that after years of showing trash, people still want to watch trash. Many black folks will watch Basketball Wives over scripted shows. A show that is like the Daily Show mixed with the Chapelle Show would probably be a big hit with young black people, but I have a feeling that Don’t Sleep is probably not as funny as The Daily Show or Dave Chapelle. I will have to check it out.

    Also, I think the complainers are more vocal but a smaller group of people. So there are people like us who would like a black Colbert Report or to see Awkward Black Girl on BET, but there are many, many more black people that want to see ratchet programming. And the only scripted stuff, some people will watch is Tyler Perry type stuff. I still think they need to do better. If BET came up with a new Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Cosby Show, I’m sure people would tune in. What are teens into these days? Vampires and Glee. Make a show about some black vampires or something. Dang! BET doesn’t like to step outside the box with their programming. If you look at all the scripted shows on TV, everything isn’t a sitcom. Can’t they try something like ER or Grey’s Anatomy? A back in the day show like Mad Men showing folks during the Harlem Renaissance or the 60s? These are the types of shows that if written well, all types of black people from hood to bougie and everything in between would enjoy I think.

    Many times folks think of the same types of stuff: Tyler Perry type shows, shows showing the bad side of the hood, slavery, the Jim Crow era, black people being abused or abusing other people. Can I see some happy black people? Can I see them not in a dysfunctional manner? Can they hire some good actors? Can the writing be Emmy worthy?

    I really like Everybody Hates Chris. That show was about a black family in Brooklyn. It was funny. A lot of black people liked it. It got Emmy and Golden Globes recognition. Is it really that difficult out of the millions of people in America, for a couple of people to write some scripts not showing negative stereotypical black people? Does everything have to be like House of Payne or The Game? And The Game went downhill when it moved to BET. That shows me right there that something is going on with that network and the vision they have. I mean when there are shows like Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends, and the Game that have done well on the CW, I think black people would watch something just like that on BET.

    Let’s just be real. BET is CLOSE-MINDED. If it’s not something about the hood, slavery, Martin Luther King Jr., church, gospel music, evil white people, or black folks being abused and portrayed as victims, they don’t want to do it. Can you see them doing a show like True Blood or Charmed or Desperate Housewives? They probably think those things are too racy. What about Star Trek or something.

    So Ms. Jackson and her team need to come up with some new ideas. Imagine a BET Grey’s Anatomy with Megan Good as Meredith and Blair Underwood as the chief and Boris Kodjoe as Derrick. I think black folks would watch that. Well black women. A Spartacus type show without all the gore and sex would be a great show for the men. The teens could have a Glee type show. Come on now! Do they really think black people only watch reality TV shows? There are a lot of us watching Scandal and Modern Family and 30 Rock and True Blood. Does BET think we are too stupid and low class to enjoy scripted TV done right?

    And “right” is the keyword. BET rarely does scripted TV that I would want to watch. She doesn’t have to act like she placed something like Seinfeld on BET, and we were too stupid to watch and enjoy it.

  • http://[email protected] Blackgirlmd

    I enjoy Don’t Sleep and try to support. I do feel like the show feels rushed. It feels like the featured panelist barely has a chance to get their feet wet before the show has to wrap up. I love the choice of topics hat have been presented so far and would love to see the topics explored in greater depth on the show. I think we should all just go ahead and acknowledge the elephant in the room. The issue is not with the quality of the Don’t Sleep show, the problem is shows like that cater to a certain demographic, a more educated and higher income demographic and unfortunately, those types of ppl comprise a minority of the black population in the US. I’m sure if we see an improvement in education levels in black America, he appreciation for shows like Don’t Sleep will rise as well. There… I said it.

  • bk chick

    You can’t just put out “positive” t.v… has to be good positive t.v. I tried to watch that show with Tracee Ellis Ross and it just wasn’t good…they took a superficial approach to “positive” and threw in some huxtable nostalgia with Malcom Jamaal hoping that would do something. Listen, I can watch MSNBC all day. So it’s not that I don’t want to watch T.J. Holmes…the show just isn’t good. While I do agree trash T.V. easily gets a ton of viewers….there’s too many good cable shows (HBO, Showtime, Starz) to say that quality non-trash T.V. doesn’t have an audience. If Awkward Black girl were on BET I’d be a faithful viewer.

  • ?!?

    I agree that what you said holds some truth. I’m sure poor white people probably watch a lot of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Honey Boo Boo. It is not shocking to me that many black people prefer watching Basketball Wives. There are a lot of uneducated (and educated) black people who like these types of shows and see themselves in these people. It’s similar to the way jazz and uplifting hip hop are not as popular as ignorant rap music.

    But….good TV is a bit different from good music. While there are lots of people even educated ones who will ignore good music, Many people across all class lines can enjoy a positive show like The Cosby Show. BET doesn’t even try to do these types of shows.

    No. I don’t really think a lot of black people especially the ones who like Basketball Wives and Mob Wives will watch Don’t Sleep, but these same black people who might be less educated would watch a show like The Cosby Show.

    I imagine the black people who watch Don’t Sleep are like the white people who watch the evening news. Yea the ratings aren’t going to be good compared to other shows, but that should be expected. Also it comes on at a late hour. Why don’t they do like the evening news and come on when people are coming home from work. It’s a horrible hour, and it’s a news show. I’m not surprised that the ratings are low.

  • D.T.

    I enjoy watching Don’t Sleep. I just wish it was an hour long because it seems rather rushed. People aren’t watching because black people (in general) rather be entertained than informed.Unfortunately people rather watch Chrissy and Mr. Jones which is sad. The problem isn’t the show but rather the audience. If it’s positive, we don’t want any part of it.

  • Willow

    Let’s offer positive programming late and night and then criticize the audience for not showing up. Not only that, let’s play crap on television for 28 years and disillusion those who want positive programming. Once they stop watching BET all together then we can play a positive show to see if they come back. If not…its their fault when we go back to playing junk only.

    I do want TJ Holmes show to do well…but my TV is off by 11. I stopped watching BET about 6 years ago. I tried to start back to watch The Game and then they destroyed that show. So I stopped again.

  • Stephanie

    “We hoped it would have been a Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert-type show” …that means news and entertainment… and laughs…
    …People feel comfortable if they are able to be serious yet laugh at the hard topics …you know this… there must be some kind of miscommunication…

  • heide

    Don’t you dare blame your viewers for not tuning into your network. It’s your job (BET/Debra Lee) to air programming that viewers want to tune into. It’s not my job as a viewer to tune into your network for crappy programming so you can get paid. If that’s the case what the hell am I getting out the deal. I mean really that’s the best you could come with.

    BET needs innovation and creativity and Debra Lee and Stephen Hill ain’t it. She said it herself she been for 20 something years and yet this is where your network is at. I mean really?

    If you look at a network like OWN who’s just now come on the scene and even though they were slow getting out the gate you can tell they know their demographic and what type of programming they want their brand to be known for. OWN just launched what a year ago and yet BET has been around for decades and this is where your at and you want to blame your viewers. Oh Pahlease!

    BET’s biggest problem is that they are trying to be all things to all black people and it isn’t nor has it worked. They want the kids to tune into 106&park, families to tune in to Reed BTWN the Lines, women to tune into Keyshia and Daniel and The Game and now they want the black political intellectual to tune into TJ Holmes.

    Honestly the promos for Holmes show looked good I wanted to watch it. But I didn’t know when it came on til I read the comment above. First of all it only comes on what once a week and at 11pm. BET’s demo is the urban audience which means the majority of it’s viewers are working people and families. They are not going to stay up until 11pm to see a news show when The Daily Show/Colbert/AC360/etc come on everyday from what 6-10pm. By 11pm I know what I need to know about local, int’l and political news. I’m no longer interested at that point.

    Let’s be truthful BET does not have the budget of AMC/MTV/Bravo/etc. When they do get a good show that does well like The Monique Show they toss it aside because they want to be cheap when they know they need viewers. The Monique Show was doing well for them and yet it’s no longer airing and all those viewers and advertisers you had are now gone. And you want to blame your viewers for that state of your network?

    Do you see MTV trying to get you and your parents to tune in. Is VH1 trying to get white males to tune in? Is Bravo trying to get the intellectual to tune in to the Real Housewives of everybody? Uh no, but yet they are successful networks and you mean to tell me you can’t figure out how to do better.

    Now that deserves a ‘Get Yo Life’ stamp.

    P.S. sorry for the rant but they got me w/that one. & forgive me if there’s typos.

  • Karen Mason

    If Don’t Sleep is meant to be like Jon Stewart’s show, then perhaps it should be aired at a couple of different times during the day like Stewart’s show is.

  • heide

    And another thing *sorry rant continued*. You mean tell me BET can’t figure out to give Angela Simmons her own reality show a la the hills. She’s young has a lot going on comes from a famous family etc. They can’t figure out to do a half hour cooking show. JayZ just gave Jourdan Dunn her own cooking show on his lifestyle blog. Hell go over to FashionBomb and give Clare a half our show on fashion whether celebrity or runway.

    And someone please tell me why there are 4 hosts on 106&park. Carson Daly did TRL by his damn self but you got four hosts. Whyyyyyy? Bow Wow could easily have helmed the show on his own. Why is there no fashion, no cooking (and not that my momma whatever crap they had on), no sports, no entertainment news shows or segments on the network.

    We are the most stylish (even though sometimes its ratchet), athletic, eclectic, versitile, diverse and cool people on the planet. Come on! BET can’t come up with a Ridiculousness or Guy Code or Hip Hop Squares for god’s sake.

    There’s just no excuse which is why Debra Lee chose to blame her viewers. GTFOH!

  • Peace

    For some reason, I never liked Debra Lee. Every time I saw her at the BET awards, I always assumed she was the reason why BET was so sub-par.

  • African Mami

    Debra Lee, needs to be fired. There I said it. She has not delivered for years!

  • heide

    sorry guys i guess clutch is going to keep my initial comment in moderation til next quarter.

  • Beautiful Mic

    Well, they should schedule this non-rachet shows within time-frames where the targeted audiences can watch them. They don’t care about their audience for these shows if they don’t even take the time to study and find out the times they watch tv. TJ Holmes show targets a mature, working, educated audience that ain’t trying to stay up until 11pm on a damn weeknight to watch him.

    They don’t care; BET/Viacom, simply don’t care about the black audience, other than to corrupt them, portray them in a derogatory light to non-blacks, and to make bank off of it.

  • Beautiful Mic

    IMO, the whole chain of command in that company must be extremely corrupt.

  • Beautiful Mic

    If they brought back Ed Gordon, though, I’d stay up ’til 11pm to watch him!!!!

  • Beautiful Mic


  • bk chick

    this made me lol: “And someone please tell me why there are 4 hosts on 106&park. Carson Daly did TRL by his damn self but you got four host”

    I randomly saw 106 and park the other day while flipping channels, and I was like..who are all these people??

  • Beautiful Mic

    BET, you need to bring Mo’Nique back and give Donnie Simpson a talk show!!!!

    and, R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet should be on BET instead of IFC.

    my 2cent.

  • Beautiful Mic

    BET, you don’t even air reruns of one of your early original series “Franks Place”…

  • Tonicia ‘Nici’ Kelly (@blackgurltech)

    You post are correct…perhaps the issue is Debra Lee herself. She and Steven Hill needs to go.

  • Michelle

    You took the words out ofmy mouth. I agree with everything you said!

  • African Mami

    starting with her….Fire her, Tired of her excuses!!!!! Be accountable, and tell the people-target audience, how you plan on resolving their issues with your crappy proggramming issues. If anything, this comment thread has provided insight as to how, BET can move forward.

    T.J. Holmes, honey find you another network. I understand you are trying to support yo pippoz, BUT you are getting a raw deal out of this! You can support them in spirit. However, I wish you nothing but success. You helllllllla fooooooooooooooooinnnnne doe!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ?!?

    I meant Ms. Lee. I don’t know where Jackson came from.

  • DictionaryMe

    Ratchet this, ratchet that, where are you guys vocabulary shopping? No, seriously?

  • binks

    TJ Holmes NEEDS TO RUN from EBT with the quickness! I actually like Don’t Sleep but they gave him a sucky time slot because A) it is either too late for some or B) conflicts with local news (as in my case). I like the content of his show but BET has to many excuses and not enough answers and I would hate to see him stay with a sinking ship that has been BET. BET just needs to be trashed and start all over again because there are too many chefs in the kitchen and nobody wants to take blame or take ahold of the pot. Black viewership is so diverse but they keep doing the status quo Debra Lee and company needs to go.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “You can’t just put out “positive” t.v… has to be good positive t.v.”

    and there you have it……

  • jamesfrmphilly

    new leadership perhaps?

  • Mina

    Maybe they should put it at an earlier time. I got work in the morning feel me? I like the Don’t Sleep show but it just gets kinda meh and boring when you have Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton on every week. I don’t really care about them. Let T.J Holmes or some other YOUNG and intelligent political person speak. I want to see more women speaking and more young men speaking and not the same old people. And she’s just giving excuses. Tired of the BS, step down Debra Lee! It’s time to go.

  • African Mami


    Provide them with the needed services, DICTIONARYme

  • Mina

    No it comes on everyday Mon-Friday at 11. I’m sleep by then. Then they show reruns on the weekends. It needs to come on at 9.

  • Mina

    Shoot! Wendy Williams show is all that and more and it doesn’t even air on BET. It’s just re-runs they showed the same day from Fox! I’m surprised they managed to get that show on BET on the first place. But again, it comes on too late and I’m sleep by then anyway lol. I mean, they could show the Steve Harvey show and Wendy Williams show during the day like around 1 or 2 pm. I can easily set my DVR or get off work and watch it then. And seriously, I already knew the 2 people they were going to pick (Paigion and Shorty) but why Bow Wow and that red head chick? They wanted to be fair by having the contest so they picked her and they picked Bow Wow because they knew they were going to lose ratings once Terrance and Rocsi left. The only reason why I watched 106 was because of Terrance. Every time Rocsi was by herself, I turned it lol. But I’m glad Terrance is moving on up and doing big things over at E! I know he’s about to get moolah now that he’s taken over Ryan Seacrest’s position. I hope and pray he can become the next Ryan Seacrest or better.

  • Egypt

    BET should have gotten on the ball a long time ago, even before the age of reality TV and Tyler Perry. Years later and they are still trying to figure it out. Smh…so much potential..

  • Eric


    I believe they should have some type of black morning show like the radio.

    It is better to inform & educate in the morning than at night

  • Eric


    It’s not my job as a viewer to tune into your network for crappy programming so you can get paid.

    ROFLMAO. We have a duty to line DLs pockets with cashola

  • Eric

    who are all these people??

    A bunch of negro stiffs. LOL

  • Eric


    You are hitting out of the park with this post. Maybe they should give you a show.

  • Eric

    It is obvious that BET is not for negros man. I am glad that y’all are not watching.

    ESPN. Steve Harvey on NBC. TNT. Investigation Discovery. MSNBC. NFL. NBA. are a better watch.

  • rkj

    They have to promote these shows outside of BET. People who would be interested in watching a show like “Don’t Sleep” have long given up on BET. For example, a few of my twitter followers who would like topical shows had never heard of it or weren’t aware that it had premiered.

  • YouHave2Wonder

    Hmmmm, agreed until the “trapped in the closet part”. No good can come from more trapped in the closet.

    Yes, BET programming has been subpar for years.

  • jac

    They really do have to promote it better. I believe I saw commercials for it on TV One, but that’s about it. I never was a regular viewer of BET and I never watch it now, maybe for some reruns of Everybody Hates Chris/My Wife and Kids. But I did give up on BET a loooong time ago.

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  • jac

    I don’t think “responsibility” is the right word, but any network looks at what shows are getting viewers to determine whether they continue or not. It’s ultimately BET that decides if they will create quality programming or show trash. I only catch reruns of Everybody Hates Chris or My Wife and Kids. Besides these shows, I have no idea what comes on BET because I never watched it too much to begin with, and I remember being horrified when I came across Uncut for the first time…
    If “Don’t Sleep” isn’t registering with the viewers they can try a different time slot, and they definitely need to promote it on ALL stations. I’ve only seen commercials on TV One at this point.

  • Mademoiselle

    I’m about to rant in 5, 4, 3, 2…

    Honestly, I think it’s time for people at BET to admit they just don’t know what they’re doing and that they’re not dialoguing with the people they’ve put off to find out how to win them back. Even when I used to give BET the benefit of the doubt and try to tune in for the programs that weren’t worthless, the timing sucked! All the shows taylored for the thoughtful black audience are squeezed into the worst hours.

    If BET knew what it was doing, it would:
    ~ put on news-type programs around the times people usually tune in for news (5-6pm and 11-midnight)
    ~ cut 106 & Park down to 1 hour and add parental ratings to the videos they show
    ~ put on family oriented shows like Reed Between the Lines, Let’s Stay Together, and/or some original daily sitcoms before the time when kids should be going to sleep (7-8pm)
    ~ develop some original hour-long drama series for the nightly primetime slots (8-10pm)
    ~ put on risque shows (referring to the downgraded version of The Game) after 10pm so adults could get in some entertainment before sleep, but after young eyes have left the room, and without sacrificing the rest needed before starting their day the next morning
    ~ quit doubling up new episodes on one night and cutting your seasons in half — it;s okk to let viewers wait a week before the next new episode, and it’s also ok to show a few reruns midseason so you can keep taping and account for audience feedback during later episodes
    ~ purchase some of the great black kids programs (Class of 3000, Little Bill, etc) that have been cannabolized by white programming and fill Saturday mornings and/or weekday early afternoons (3-5pm) with new and re-imagined episodes of them and other new kids programs
    ~ schedule roundtable-type and adult talk show programs for more than 30 minutes on anything but a Sunday morning so viewers can watch a full dialogue without choosing between church and TV — you’re not more popular than God, sorry
    ~ quit putting stuff on repeat ad infinitum since the more you rerun an awards show the less prestigious it feels (assuming you can figure out how to actually set some type of decorum for the honorees to follow), plus everyone owns or pays for some type of recording device/service now, so we don’t need the reruns
    ~ quit trying to turn all the most crass mainstream shows into the BET-sponsored black versions (no more College Hills, Hell Dates, and whatever else used to turn me off back when I tried to support)

    BET needs to understand that a large portion of black viewership is nostalgic for the days when there was a formula to successful channels: something for everyone at strategic times of the day. Kids get home from school at a certain time and generally tend to have a routine they follow (homework, playing, TV, dinner, sleep — in whatever order), so they won’t be glued to the TV all day, and that’s ok as long as the kids programs come on when kids typically get to watch TV. Adults come home from work/school at certain times and generally have a routine they follow (cooking, cleaning, entertainment, sleep, etc in whatever order), and they won’t be glued to the TV all day either, which is still ok as long as adult programs come on when adults tend to tune in.

    BET can’t just slap shows on and expect people to drop everything to meet their schedule. If you’re going to compete with everything else people have going on, you need to do it with some sense. Put on good programs at the right times, and blame your viewers for your failure some other time.

  • lola_z

    I agree with mostly everything stated above. BET is in a sad state and it is not the viewers fault – Heidi said it best.
    Look, we are not narrow minded, individuals. We are a diverse group of people that have diverse opinions and views. Yes, we happen to share a similar past in history and have the same pigmentation, but we age like everyone else, span the intellectual and financial gap like every other race. We have cultural differences, love and are stimulated by different things.
    As I was reading this article, I just realized that I don’t even know what channel BET is on my TV. As EVERYONE pretty much stated, why is it so hard to diversify the programming on the channel?
    Why can’t we have a show like “The View” or “The talk” but with mostly or all black ladies. It doesn’t have to be a show about black or white, but we can discuss the issues we are facing in this nation and provide insight from a black woman’s perspective.
    As Heidi stated, we are the fashionistas around here – so what’s so hard in having a 30 minute segment or even an hour on fashion. What works for the black body etc. Because we all know that even if it’s on the cover of a magazine, it doesn’t necessarily fit our body type. We are built differently – even when we are slim. You guys could talk about makeup that works perfectly for our skin types, etc.
    I love First Take on ESPN.. It’s hilarious, witty and entertaining. The major pastimes in America are Basketball and American Football. These are both dominated by Black Athletes. And why can’t BET come up with a segment that deals with the biggest news in Sports? A talk show hosted by former NFL/NBA players about sports.
    There is Mad Men, Game of Thrones on HBO, etc. Why can’t BET come up with a drama or something similar that shows our plight back in the day? Yes, some of the content will be racy and maybe a little off-putting to some. Racism will be brought up, and rightly so. But it could focus on showing our black men in a positive light as they used to be back in the day. Hard working, head of the household men who worked hard for their families and fought alongside their women for equality. It could depict the discipline and respect we had for our elders back in the day; our extensive vocabulary even with the stigmas, oppression and refusal by others to grant us equal opportunity. And the list goes on and on.
    There are many ways to get a message across.. Gone are the days of Jackson, Sharpton, etc. They are stuck in their old ways and quite frankly, their agendas are hurting us more than they are helping at times.
    Yeah, BET you need a change. Times change, people change and you need to keep up or get going.

  • ?!?

    Right? I just don’t think it’s that hard. They screwed up with their trashy programming, and now they can’t get it together. They seem to lack creativity. Maybe they should hire some young fresh people who know what people want. I just don’t understand how so many other channels know who their audience is and are able to deliver a lineup but BET can’t seem to get it together.

    All of us on this article have thrown out reasonable suggestions. Do you think they’ll do any of that? They added a news show at night when everybody is watching The Daily Show and Chelsea Handler or getting ready for bed, and they’re surprised that the ratings aren’t good. And they had a show kind of like Chelsea Handler in Monique. How about making the news show an hour and doing it in the morning when people are getting ready for work? Or when people are coming home from work and cooking dinner? I know next to nothing about TV programming, but I know the format of other channels. They need to decide are they going to be a family channel like ABC or CBS showing morning shows in the morning, talk shows and soap operas in the afternoon, news around 5-6, dramas and sitcoms at night, cartoons on the weekend, or are they going to shoot for a certain group of people like adults and homeowners on HGTV, young people on MTV, young people who like trashy stuff on VH1, young teens on the CW. They don’t know what they want to do.

    Dramas cost money though. I’ve noticed that they rarely want to do dramas, but as someone mentioned why not do some cooking, fashion, or sports shows? Create some reality shows centered around people not fighting and screaming. BET couldn’t have given Toni Braxton or Salt -n- Pepa a show? Someone mentioned Vanessa Simmons. These other channels are producing positive and non-trashy shows with black people in them, but they blame us.

    I watch other channels because their programming is better plain and simple. Can BET come up with something on par with The Today Show that I might want to watch in the morning? Can they do the evening news? Are they going to put on some good dramas? Will their sitcoms be witty and less Tyler Perry-like? There are black people on YouTube creating good content. Can they create a black Martha Stewart? Can I see some home improvement reality shows like HGTV has? Can there be something like Sesame Street or That’s So Raven? Can they do something like the Chapelle show on Comedy Central? Reports on pop culture are a great way to draw in young folks and women. Can they have something like E! News or Wendy Williams? They can’t do a classy unlike Flavor of Love Bachelor? Can they find the next Oprah who would talk about serious and trivial topics?

    Please. She is definitely out of touch. She needs to be honest with herself. Other channels think of things people will watch before BET because the people behind the scenes are more creative and are willing to try new things.

  • Leslie

    Hello! So obvious it’s ridiculous no one gets it – or wants to get it!

  • Mademoiselle

    I agree. I think the unadulterated truth is BET straight up stereotyped all of black America when they came up with their programs, fed us hoodrat tripe they figured black people were into, and tried to backpeddle when black people got fed up. Now they’re mad because we’re not loyal to BET no matter what. What they really want is for the people who call them out on their BS to give them a pass on the crappy programming they run all day just because they “give” us what we want to watch in the dead of night. It’s a backhanded solution, and loyalty doesn’t work that way. I’d rather not have a black themed station at all if all it’ll do is dig us into a deeper hole. They can keep waiting on me to “show up” because I won’t be guilted into watching their foolishness.

  • Pseudonym

    Seems BET didn’t get the memo that respectable black people with brains and some sense of decency don’t watch BET anymore- most even claim to be boycotting it. I honestly think BET just needs to go away. Perhaps someone else can start a black Interest network (There’s on I see on tv now that plays “A Different World,” “The Cosby Show,” “Martin,” and other black sticoms from the 90s.), but I think the BET brand has burned its bridges out of the Nomansland it currently inhabits.

  • Joy

    Mina: I agree with the fact that TJ’s show should be put on earlier. More mature adults would watch it. I think the majority of late late night TV is watched by younger people, and generally speaking younger people don’t migrate to news shows (mid age, and older people do). I would think that Lee should know that by now. I do agree with Lee’s theory that people don’t show up….bc older people (who have to go to work the next day) are usually sleep by 11 or 12 at night; and young people like reality TV more than serious news.

  • Sick

    Maybe they should advertise so people know what is coming to their channel. But in her 28 or so years one or two productive shows is a horrid track record!!!!! The station sucks. Why not tell the truth, which is they don’t want to spend money for good programming. Which is why no one “shows up.”

  • Pseudonym

    BET had a loooooooooooooong time to not air ratchet programming and they failed. Now all the non-ratchet people simply refuse to watch BET. They dug their own grave.

  • Pseudonym

    and I think the complete BET boycott by many blacks is the best form of consistency one could ask for. We will no longer support a network that does not support us.

  • Diamond Newman

    BET should be responsible, and if this is possible, the viewers should show up. Point. Blank. BET should give certain shows time to grow into the greatness it is supposed to be. Yes, BET is not the black intellectual’s favorite channel, so the network has to prove a lot, but it takes time. But, once this time comes…..the support should, too.

  • TheMuseintheMirror

    Maybe you were too eager to say, “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson..Whoo!!!…I am for real!”

    All jokes aside, shoot girl you need to be in the BET/Viacom production room because you had a lot of great concepts! I hope Debra Lee takes a look at Clutch this week!

  • kb

    I thought Centric was supposed to be the answer to BET’s schizophrenia but they don’t even seem to understand that themselves. All they do is show reruns of 90s programming. Can we get some adult programs? Black people want some Curb Appeal! How about a positive parenting show? Can we get some of the YouTube natural hair vloggers, makeup tutors, & fashionistas on a show? Black people like to cook. Get a cooking show. It’s not that hard. Make The Unwritten Rules into a TV show. We need a show about the funny things that happen to black people in the workplace. Do better, BET.

  • YouToo

    that’s why i like tv one

  • Lauren

    Can we write a letter to BET with your suggestions?

  • ?

    I am not a fan of BET but I can see where she is coming from, business wise, why should she take the risk in losing hundreds of millions of dollars? Sadly, programming showcasing rat behavior-women fighting, neck rolling, finger pointing, hand clapping, foul mouthed tirades …are big hits in the BC. I don’t know if you can really force counter programming down the throat of those who don’t want it.

  • dirtychai

    I call bull.
    Regarding most of its new programming,BET seems to have forgotten that it’s a young people’s network. A decade ago many of their shows had been on for years because they provided a unique cultural experience that you didn’t see anywhere else on TV. After the transfer to Viacom, BET went through that phase of airing entertainment that was detrimental to the mental state of their young audience.
    Now their audience is grown up and is either severely anti-intellectual or completely turned off by their network.
    I get that they don’t want to take a risk on programming that might not work, but they also have to cultivate a new audience and that requires innovation

  • Tonton Michel

    BET is like the kid in middle school who peed his pants. Doesnt matter what you do, that rep is going to stay with you till everyone is dead.

  • RayRay

    You hit everything right on the nose. I’m only 21, and I agree with everything that you suggested. You should work for them because this is definitely a great plan. I think the only thing is to not lose the culture of music and find a more sophisticated way of presenting it. Even though I watch 106 & Park rarely, very rarely, it is definitely going down in the tues and I don’t find a lot of programs to watch. I actually like the show Dont Sleep and it is very beneficial to young growing professional adults. I hate turning to BET and find the same movies playing. Baby Boy is like their national anthem. Come on BET, “we got you”–not really.

  • Comment

    Yet TV One seems to get it. I find myself watching that channel for entire days at a time. They play reruns of great shows like Living Single and also mix it up with new programs like Save My Son and that show where they get women to understand that they are in destructive relationships, showing them why they make the choices they do. When it’s movie time they don’t run the same played out movies like Baby Boy and Don’t Drink Your 40 in South Central … They play great old movies like Love Jones that make you reminisce and lesser known stuff like Animal. BET can learn a lot from the folks at TV One and other networks with positive reality shows like We (the braxtons) and the channel that produces that Mary Mary family show. I’ve heard another good show is that one with the cooking mama. BET and Debra Lee have no business blaming the audience — the audience shows up for good programming. Also, Debra Lee should be more forthcoming in admitting the sins that BET has committed against the black community if she really wants a fresh start.

  • Comment

    I totally agree with you about the black mad men / boardwalk empire type of show. Thats the only reason why I tune into boardwalk empire– the black family storyline. The Wire, though showing the underworld of the black community, was an awesome show too.

    Yes, a WELL WRITTEN series focused around the Harlem renaissance, BET or TV One please get on it and please hire some writers with actual chops, not your cousins and sorority sisters!

  • Risse

    Watching those shows, Love & Hip Hop, Housewives, etc. are like a fight in school or a bad accident. You stand there and watch as you shake your head because it couldn’t be you. The fact is, it’s entertaining…To Debra’s point I/we are accountable but only to an extent. I sit there and watch although I hate every second of it. That’s not ALL that I watch so that can’t be all they offer.

  • Kendra (@Nerdstradamas)

    I think BET has catered to a younger audience for so long, that the adults, or educated audience has completely tuned out. The network has shot themselves in the foot. Also, when BET attempts to do a positive program, they barely invest in it. These programs tend to only be 30 minutes long.

    They aired the “Don’t Sleep” campaign heavily on BET and on bus shelters (at least here in Chicago) but what about on other networks? Billboards?

    Like everyone is saying, TvOne DOES get it right ( I love Unsung – that’s my junk!). And that’s because the President and CEO, Johnathan Rodgers, was responsible for expanding and growing a network like The Discovery channel, and he used that knowledge to develop a new black network, which we so desperately needed.

    At the end of the day, BET lacks what TvOne has, and that’s vision + creativity, and the GUTS to try new programming and stick with it.

    Lastly, how is that a network like VH1 has a better Hop Hop awards program that is capable of blending both old and new school?

  • Karenga

    I think when you have a WHITE OWNED & BLACK MANAGED TV NETWORK like BET this is what happens to the IMAGES that are PORTRAYED!!!! BOB JOHNSON used his REPUBLICAN PARTY AFFILIATION contacts to start BET…. He made BILLIONS selling BLACK FILTH to BLACK YOUTH….. while his WHITE ADVERTISERS made a FINANCIAL KILLING off of BLACK CONSUMERS with him!!!! but guess what???? I BLAME US!!!!!!! if we DONT WATCH….. the ADVERTISERS dont pay BET AD DOLLARS…… DEMAND DEMAND DEMAND BETTER PROGRAMMING OR BOYCOTT by not watching that crap!!!! THEY DONT RESPECT US AS CONSUMERS!!!!! WE NEED MORE INDEPENDENT ELECTRONIC BLACK OWNED MEDIA to cover NEWS/BIZ not only here in America but Africa TOO!!!! its 2012 FOLKS!!!!! No more
    N!GGA SH!T portrayals!!!! BET & TVONE need to STEP IT UP!!!! ps…. OPRAH dont even want to PROGRAM her TV NETWORK to BLACKS in America & Africa & THATS WHY her RATINGS are SO POOR!!!! The REAL TRUTH is that SOME WEALTHY EDUCATED BLACKS in POSITIONS of POWER are AFRAID of THE WHITES that BACK THEM to put POSITIVE programming on TV…. Tatooed azz CHRIS BROWN & THE GAME with NO TALENT rapping about how THEY ARE PIMPING COLLEGE EDUCATED females for their MONEY in a VIDEO is POSITIVE???? CMON!!!! & it insults EDUCATED BLACK FEMALES….. the ones I KNOW would tell THE GAME & CHRIS BROWM to KISS their azz!!!! they are using THE HOOD RATS to PORTRAY a FAKE AZZ REALITY as PROPOGANDA & BET is A PART OF THE BULLSH!T!!!!
    I HATE THAT SH!T!!!!! Tell Summer Redstone The WHITEMAN who OWNS BET to TAKE THAT SH!T off THE AIR!!!!

  • LeonieUK

    Debra Lee has no support overseas. BET in the UK is worse than the delivery you get in the USA. Most of the shows are rerun and all are music based, yes all. Watching the channel with my Asian friend the other day, and she said ” This is embarrassing on so many levels”, and I had to agree. Yes I overstand its a free channel in the UK, it would have to be it’s pure rubbish anyway.
    Personally I believe BET is the demise of Black people, it needs a overhaul of all that stands with the decision making. Such a shame that something which was so good is beyond repair and needs something like a tsunami to rebuild again.

  • Sarah

    The reason Oprah has her OWN network is to be targeted to the people who watched her talk show for 25 years, and its programs are not filled with coonery buffoonery unlike BET. I watch OWN and I’m 22 and I don’t support BET and Debra Lee’s lying sell out ass. I want programming that I can relate to, and that my future kids can have show that are positive, Unless they change their content, I will not be watching BET or any other wack ass “reality” that showcases black people in a negative light.

  • paul

    TV is an electronic device that baby sits poor, uneducated and not very bright people. If you watch a lot of tv you’re inadvertently telling people a lot about yourself.

  • C U

    I forget which year it was when I stopped watching BET. But
    it happened to be one of the award shows when Lil Wayne
    Rick Ross Drake and some other clown came out in their buffoon outfits I said F BET

  • Gina

    Girl, yes!!!! I have not watched BET in years, but I watch the Daily Show every night. Once in awhile I will catch BET at my mommas house and it is ALWAYS some rachet-assed show. BET needs better writers, and way more open-minded execs and producers, preferably under the age of 65 and not from the deep south and the church! I am a black atheist and I am surely not on their entertainment radar. But I will be tuning into Scandal on another network. Also, can’t black shows have black actors just being people? Not every show has to be hardcore black-centric with the leads rolling and popping wearing kente-cloth and preaching. I would love to see a black version of the office. Even throw in some white actors for some sidekick characters. Their biggest problem is that they have programmed themselves into a corner and now everyone knows BET as a slum of programming. They would almost have to start a whole new network with a high-brow focus to get me to watch again. BIT – Black Intelligent Television.

  • Gina

    Also, try some Sci-fi programming. I have been waiting for years for someone to put one of Octavia Butler’s books onto the screen. Now of course, BET would likely ruin it….but at least try!!!

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