Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bob Johnson's at it again...

Richard Prince reports:

Robert L. Johnson became a billionaire when he sold BET.
The National Association of Black Journalists, whose members have often been critical of Black Entertainment Television, is backing BET founder Robert L. Johnson's
bid to the Federal Communications Commission for approval of a new "urban" television network.
"We're trying to expand the footprint of African American ownership," NABJ President Barbara Ciara told Journal-isms. "Clearly, it's an opportunity to negotiate with him to broaden the news landscape. I would like to think people will learn from their past."
In December 2002, BET canceled just about the only black-oriented news shows on national television: "BET Tonight with Ed Gordon"; "Teen Summit," a public affairs program; and "Lead Story," a Sunday journalist roundtable that originated from Washington.
"The decision to cancel them was made by Bob and myself," Debra Lee, BET president, said then. "These shows were losing money" — an estimated $3 million to $4 million per year — "and we could not find advertisers to support them. There came a day of reckoning." Likewise, Johnson in 2000 pulled the plug on BET's magazines, BET Weekend, a 1.3 million-circulation Sunday feature magazine, and the serious-minded Emerge, which claimed 170,000 subscribers. That left the network with a reputation for being interested only in showing jiggling music videos. In 2000, Johnson sold BET for $3 billion to the Viacom media conglomerate.
"This is not BET," Karen Wynn Freeman, NABJ's executive director, said of Johnson's plans on Friday. "It's the ownership piece that we feel strongly about."
Johnson's new company is to be called Urban Television LLC. Johnson is seeking permission to share time on 42 stations owned by Ion Media Networks Inc., a successor to Pax TV, a family-oriented broadcast network that operated on several UHF channels. Ion Media owns 49 percent of the venture; Johnson's RLJ Companies, 51 percent.
Sharing time on the Ion stations is possible with the advent of digital channels. The stations share different audio channels on the same frequency, so that a second network could broadcast 24 hours a day.
NABJ joined a coalition of other supporters after a Dec. 23 luncheon meeting with Johnson at a Washington restaurant, Ciara said. The others — not all present at the meeting — were the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, the International Black Broadcasters Association, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, the NAACP, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, National Bar Association, National Urban League, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Video Access Alliance. Johnson made a presentation and anticipated their concerns, David Honig, executive director of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, told Journal-isms.
At the meeting, "the thing that really got people's attention the most was that independent producers can get their stuff on the air and they'll still own it," Honig told Journal-isms. "This was well-received by people who can't kick the doors in because the doors have been locked."
"Urban plans to offer 'entertainment, informational and issue-oriented programming directed at and responsive to the needs, interests and concerns of the African American community and other historically underserved viewers.' When was the last time a television application arrived at the FCC promising anything remotely like this?" Honig wrote in the FCC filing. "Or proposing to triple the number of African American owned local television stations, all at once? And on top of that, to create the first African American over the air national network?
"Never did we dream that in our lifetimes we might have an opportunity to witness this, the birth of the nation's first over-the-air African American television network. But this year, so many things once thought impossible are taking place." He wrote that only eight African American stations remain among the nation's more than 1,700 full-power commercial television stations.
But the venture is opposed by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which represents the cable industry. "The problem for cable operators is that Johnson wants the Federal Communications Commission to force cable to carry Urban's programming," Ted Hearn
wrote Tuesday for Multichannel News. Honig told Journal-isms he was hopeful an agreement could be reached with the cable representatives.
The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents broadcast networks, backs the proposal. "This is the type of free, innovative and niche programming that NAB has always believed should flourish in a digital multicast world, but which has been blocked for competitive reasons by the largest cable" systems, said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, Hearn reported.
The Media Access Project/Common Cause said its support was conditioned on a number of things, John Eggerton
reported for Broadcasting & Cable.
"They also want the FCC to establish benchmarks for public affairs programming. Urban has promised at lest seven hours a week, but the groups want the FCC to better spell out the programming requirements, including finding that a lineup devoted primarily to infomercials wouldn't cut it."

Fanboys and girls--we are like battered women. When will we learn to call the cops, break the cycle? No license for this man unless's he locked into no more ass shaking, ignorance or Good Times and Sanford & Son marathons...


Lisa said...

Infomercials for Brazilian nut-based hair relaxers. You forgot about those.

Pebbles Flintstone said...

The devil is in the details, Chris. Look at what Debra Lee stated within the article and read between the lines.

Anonymous said...

I think Barbara Ciara and NABJ are right to be proactive. With groundfloor partnership we're not ironclad (that is impossibe, as you cannot merely dictate content)but pretty well steady in addressing the things which made BET come to define such "distaste" in so many peoples' minds.

Nevertheless I understand your skepticism (and sarcasm). Indeed Bob Johnson's not one of my favorite people either, but as no one else has stepped up, we must use him as conduit.

rikyrah said...

See, this is why Black folks have no credibility.

He already proved what he's about.

What else do you need to know?

Anonymous said...

Is there a link to the FCC so we can comment?

Christopher Chambers said...

I think the public comment deadline was Christmas (Bob juices the system yet again). But you can still go to, or pray Barack gives some payback to this tool and put some folk on the FCC who'll derail this. See, Bob pulled this with Urban Trust Bank, snaking the charter of some tiny black bank in Florida. Of course, UT is nothing now after all those promises of enriching the community. Hmmm...

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

You've got to be kidding!!!

Anonymous said...

I side (in a way) with @MinaG. If no one else steps forward then what choice do we have? We NEED ownership.

Robert M said...

This is tough. I remember when he started he pulled out all the Oscar Micheaux flicks from the 20's to 30's to get programming. As to video's I do not know if anybody thought they become what they are as whom knew rap was going down that path of gangster and less roots and a tribe call quest to just plain ignorant Grills. The news portions are a loser for most local stations, have been since the mid to late 90's and feww if any nationals are making money on it; look how David Gregory moved from NBC to MSNBC.
If you want to say he dumbed down to AfricanAmericans I can't buy it. If you look at any sitcom where a male is a lead; he is usually just plain stupid and saved by his wife. Nor has reality TV done anything but allow people to show their ass. Can you imagine someone following you around as you just do your job?
to put it colloqucally(sic?) Hate the game not the player..

Anonymous said...

Ok, Prof. Chambers. Once again, you pushed a button of mine; hard!

There is absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with Sandford and Son big dummy.

Secondly, I'm gonna have to side with Mina and Tang. B Johnson is shady, but BET did not get trife until he sold it. Yes, it did drop many positive and necessary programming, but it was not the blatant ignorance and minstral show it is now.

lincolnperry said...

Those fools at the NABJ need there asses whipped, You can pimp me once...but twice, I don't think so!

msladyDeborah said...

Say it ain't so!

I am for a Black Network-but not with Johnson at the head.

We already have Buffoon Entertainment Television! I don't want more of the same.

Anonymous said...

orange county mortgagedesigner clothingNevertheless I understand your skepticism (and sarcasm). Indeed Bob Johnson's not one of my favorite people either, but as no one else has stepped up, we must use him as conduit.

MCA said...

Bay Hideaway Resort presents outstanding value without compromise, offering long or short term visitors a choice of beautifully appointed 1 & 2 Bedroom 4 star fully self contained villas or 2 & 3 Bedroom 2 bathroom 4 ½ star fully self contained villas.bay hideaway resort hervey baysolar flashlights

Anonymous said...

We found a spam link to our site in the comment directly above this. We apologize for the inconvenience. We did not authorize nor do we condone spamming people's blogs. Thank you and please accept our apologies. If you would remove it, we would be most grateful. The comment reads" Bay Hideaway Resort presents outstanding value without compromise, offering long or short term visitors a choice of beautifully appointed 1 & 2 Bedroom 4 star fully self contained villas or 2 & 3 Bedroom 2 bathroom 4 ½ star fully self contained villas.bay hideaway resort hervey baysolar flashlights"