Host of BET’s “Don’t Sleep,” Tj Holmes stopped by the Breakfast Club morning show in NYC recently to talk about his show and the battles he goes through with BET over the show.
While on the air, Tj spoke about how the station is downsizing his show from 5 episodes a week to 1 hour long show per week. Tj played the role like he was ok with the decision, but I’m sure he understood the game. BET brought him in to build the credibility of their station, which has become known for nothing more than videos and reality shows. They had no real plan on allowing actual news to interrupt their steady stream of income.
BET is the largest network for African-Americans when it comes to all ages. The station reaches is virtually limitless when you include their online presences, bet.com. Yet, since Viacom took over BET, the stations focus has gone from being a station that was a one-stop shop for all things that pertained to Black America, to being just another member in the “network.” They’re just one more channel in a mix of thousands of channels. I’m sure BET figures that if you really want news, you’ll just change the channel.
The lack of news and news reporting and the perceived lack of relevance since Viacom came into the picture is another hurdle that Tj is clearly dealing with right now. Before the takeover, the news was something that BET proudly promoted. Journalists like Ed Gordon,Tavis Smiley and Jacque Reid were anchors on BET News. New was something they was proud of, like it made them a serious station.
Fast Forward to now, and this is a station that in 2006 decided to keep regular programming run rather than show live coverage of the funeral for Coretta Scott-King. Her funeral was covered live as CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and BET competitors TV One and Black Family Channel. BET kept playing music videos as if nothing was going on.
Thanks to the Internet, BET is just one outlet that’s available to Black America to get coverage on things that matter to our community. That doesn’t absolve BET from any responsibility though. For the ridiculous amount of time and energy consumed on playing us music videos and producing reality shows, I would hope that they would sneak in a minute or two to cover what’s going on in the world.
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