In an exclusive, The Hollywood Reporter has revealed a report on BET (Black Entertainment Television)’s move away from its home in Washington, D.C. Apparently there is a place like home…Los Angeles. Leaving no detail behind, THR has even reported that BET head Debra Lee has even listed her D.C. home. As Lee lists her home, numerous employees have been sent scouring job listings. At present, many employees are facing a future without the major network as many won’t be relocating with the company. For those that will, some will make the move to Los Angeles and others will move the New York office. BET has been a network of change, since being sold to Viacom in 2001.
From there, viewers saw much of the programming shift to rival that of MTV and VH1, other Viacom brands. Viacom has indicated the BET is in fact a viable brand, naming it one of its six core brands. You can expect a much more mainstream programming structure as the corporate heads seek to align its brands to its corporate vision.
What in Sam, er Stephen Hill is going on at BET?
Earlier this year, the first black owned television network parted ways with its President of Programming, Stephen G. Hill as well as Executive Vice President and Head of Original Programming, Zola Mashariki. The move surprised everyone and the started the incessant chatter.
The shocking move came on the heels of the highly successful “New Edition” biopic that sent viewers to iTunes and Youtube to either relive past glorious moments with the boy band or for new fans to get to know the teen heartthrobs for the first time.
Along with the move away from the nation’s capitol, BET is leaving behind “Joyful Noise” and had already canned BET Honors- both of which were filmed in their D.C. studio. Joyful Noise failed to rein in the audience numbers of its predecessor “Bobby Jones Gospel” and was the lowest viewed show in the lineup.
BET is not what it used to be, let’s face it. Still, it’s a top viewed network among black viewers. Given the recent rise of Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network and Cathy Hughes’ TV One, the options are there and black viewers are taking note.
BET could never truly alienate its black audience though many felt betrayed by the 2001 sell to Viacom. Viewers have been vocal about some of the recent programming that excludes any type of news and social engagement and focuses solely on well…entertainment, much like the other brands in the conglomerate.
It remains to be seen how the move affects the company, its leadership and its programming. Of all the potential changes the network faces, let’s just a name change isn’t one of them. In the meantime, comment below and share your thoughts on the move.