Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (aka B.E.T.) and philanthropist/global ambassador for the humanitarian organization CARE, made her feelings about the downward spiral of the programming on her brainchild known. Sheila Crump Johnson and her husband Bob started Black Entertainment Television over three decades ago with $15,000 in seed money and a $500,000 investment from media mogul John Malone. Today in 2010, this is what she has to say about B.E.T.:
“Don’t even get me started,” says the 60-year-old Johnson, who has since divorced and remarried (charmingly enough, to the Virginia circuit court judge who presided over her divorce). “I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids [a twentysomething daughter and a college-age son] that they don’t watch it… I’m ashamed of it, if you want to know the truth.”
She then goes on to add:
“When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television,” Johnson tells me. “We had public affairs programming. We had news… I had a show called Teen Summit, we had a large variety of programming, but the problem is that then the video revolution started up… And then something started happening, and I didn’t like it at all. And I remember during those days we would sit up and watch these videos and decide which ones were going on and which ones were not. We got a lot of backlash from recording artists…and we had to start showing them. I didn’t like the way women were being portrayed in these videos.”
And in closing…
“I just really wish—and not just BET but a lot of television programming—that they would stop lowering the bar so far just so they can get eyeballs to the screen,” she says. “I know they think that’s what’s going to keep programming on the air; that’s what’s going to sell advertising. But there has got to be some responsibility. Somebody has got to take this over. Because with all the studies that are out there, this is contributing to an atmosphere of free sex, ‘I don’t have to protect myself anymore.'”
*in my best annoying little sister voice ==> “Oooooooh B.E.Teeeeeee you done made Mama maaaaaad!!!!
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