Sunday, January 25, 2009

Do we want BET as black European television?

Should we be pleased with the European expansion of Black Entertainment Television BET?

BET, short for Black Entertainment Television, becomes mainstream in Europe. The company broadcasts Hip Hop, Jazz and Gospel music and various sitcoms, and life style shows. The channel started broadcasting in 2008 via the satellite network Sky UK, but rumors are that it will broadcast via the bigger media company UK Virgin TV in march 2009.

From a black political point of view there is nothing wrong with BET. BET CEO Debra Lee explained in an interview: “ It’s a place for those who are yet to be heard. Being able to control our voices and to give of voice to the black community is a political statement. Editorial decisions and the what people you have on the air. “ Besides who doesn't want to see all the black stars on TV.

The UK comedian Lenny Henry sees BET UK as a much needed channel. He stated that in the thirty years he worked for the BBC, the only black people he saw where the people on the door, in the hats and in the cantina. So far so good.

But there is also a downside. In 2007 BET aired a show based on a highly controversial website ‘Black Ghetto mess’. The project had been criticized by other African Americans, who said the site and program where demeaning and presented racist depictions of blacks. As a result two sponsors dropped their ad spots from the television show.

So do we need BET in Europe? As a BET executive puts it, ”we want to fill the gap in black cultural content.” But if you look at the problems of black youth in the UK in France and in the Netherlands, you don’t want a channel which broadcasts the opposite of that new African-American black image we see in Europe nowadays.

But maybe things will change. If Colin Powel uses BET to reach out to the troubled African American inner city youth, then they must be doing something right. Let’s hope they don’t use Europe as a try out for ghetto programs.


Black Entertainment Television (BET) UK Lauch - What Happenend
BET Retitles 'Hot Ghetto Mess' Before Debut Tonight
Website Hot Ghetto Mess

1 comment:

  1. It could be a positive thing for black Europeans as long as it doesn't turn into what the American BET has become. It is now more about making money off of black people than providing high quality programming. When flipping stations, you will generally see scantily clad butts jiggling on your screen (and I'm not exaggerating). Their formula seems to be taking MTV and VH1 reality shows and making cheap rip-offs of them using a black cast. On Sundays, they're suddenly showing gospel music videos. The president station claims they are only providing what their audience wants to see, but many of us would disagree. At night, you'll often see religious scam artists selling holy water or "miracle manna" to gullible people by promising them financial rewards from God. I'm NOT joking. BET used to provide good, insightful programming but that is long gone. Luckily, stations like TV One provide us with a better option.


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