TV One founder Cathy Hughes and BET Founder Bob Johnson Feud over TV Networks

The Philadelphia Tribune, News Report, Bobbi Booker Posted: Mar 24, 2009

Two of the biggest names in African American media communications are locked in a war of words over the future of minority-owned television outlets.

Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve plans for a new “urban” television network.

Johnson is joined in his application by Ion Media Networks Inc., which describes itself as “a network television broadcasting company which owns and operates the largest broadcast television station group in the U.S., as measured by the number of television households ION’s stations serve.” Johnson’s company would own 51 percent of the new venture and Ion 49 percent. The plans for the urban channel have been challenged by TV One Chair Alfred C. Liggins, who heads the largest multimedia company that primarily targets African American and urban listeners, viewers, readers and Internet users.

TV One told the FCC that Johnson’s plan “simply would substitute a government-favored programmer (Urban) for another, such as TV One, that does not receive the government’s favored dispensation.”

The TV One FCC filing in opposition of Johnson’s bid to launch an upstart, urban-targeted network has drawn the ire of Johnson, who expressed his “disappointment” in both an exclusive interview with the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable and a personal letter to Liggins.

“It does surprise me,” Johnson told B&C this week. “That’s how TV One came to be — asking for carriage and insisting that cable operators provide more diversity. To say that cable can’t afford to offer more channels is crazy. And to assume that because another channel comes about that they are going to drop BET makes the case that we need FCC action to get carriage. If we’re the last added and the first dropped, there is something wrong with the system.”

Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization, has pointed out to the FCC that Urban Television’s current application is not in the public interest and its “applications should be dismissed.”

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User Comments

EadyMedia on Mar 31, 2009 at 19:12:01 said:

Join me tonight to give your opinions on this issues. Live on at 10pm CT.

cdfarley on Mar 31, 2009 at 08:41:01 said:

I'm for both... since we need diversity and variety in the offerings available to anyone interested in watching TV One Or (the proposed) Urban. Hopefully, both will devote some of their programming to Jazz. In the meantime check out for an example of what should be on the cable channels.

cdfarley on Mar 31, 2009 at 08:40:25 said:

I'm for both... since we need diversity and variety in the offerings available to anyone interested in watching TV One Or (the proposed) Urban. Hopefully, both will devote some of their programming to Jazz. In the meantime check out for an example of what should be on the cable channels.

Stingray9 on Mar 29, 2009 at 00:16:13 said:

I hope both of these Coon distributors fight each other to sheer exhaustion, neither station is worth snot...Nothing but black mind poison dressed up as false entertainment.

Tasha Washington on Mar 28, 2009 at 20:29:45 said:

I am currently a supervisor at a leading cable company on the eastern seaboard. I would love to contribute ideas or work on a project such as starting a new black network. Please email me if any assistance can be offered.

Tasha Washington on Mar 28, 2009 at 20:23:48 said:

I was so mad when I learned that he sold BET to Viacom. Let's be clear, the network was going in the wrong direction with programming 2 years before he actually sold it, however, it just closed the door for the
'revolution to be televised' if you understand what I am saying. There needs to be a stipulation that if Bob Johnson is able to start a new black network, it should have a variety of programming with sitcoms, talk shows, movies and other mainstream media programming that show positive images of black people. I think we can have an all black version of a CBS, NBC or ABC if marketing efforts are focused correctly.

t woods on Mar 27, 2009 at 23:43:53 said:

Umm Its TELEVISION, which is ENTERTAINMENT....WE should not expect BET OR TVONE to TEACH our youth anything. They evolved to make a profit LET IT ReST!

Ilya Kori on Mar 27, 2009 at 22:44:29 said:

Bob Johnson, maybe you've heard this quote:
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

You've had your continental breakfast, now it's check-out time! I will NEVER SUPPORT anything this man puts his grimy hands on...nothing! I'm still trying to wash the stench of BET off me and he wants another network???

What's he gonna call this one...NIG?!
And I still say the couple billion dollars he got for selling BET was a better swindle than Bernie Madoff could ever dream about!!

Priest Forever on Mar 27, 2009 at 20:05:50 said:

I have often stated that BET is the worst thing to happen to black people since the Crack epidemic. While that may sound a bit extreme to some, I stand by my statements. Bob Johnson sold his people out for financial gain. I remember when BET only broadcast on Friday nights and showed Midnight Starr music videos all night. Bob Johnson went to communities and asked churches and organizations to appeal to their cable companies to add this network for \"Our People\" and in the name of diversity. His network went on to become the number one purveyor of negative images of black people. This however is not blamed on Hip Hop, this is to be blamed on the lack of balance BET displayed in its programming choices. To this day holdovers from the old guard such as Stephen Hill still are responsible for making poor programming choices on the Viacom-Owned network.

As for Bob Johnson has feels as though he is not accountable to his people or its community. This is the same brother who threw President Obama under the bus so its evident that his judgment is to be called in to play.

Not that Cathy Hughes is any better. This woman heads Radio One and her son runs the network. They are responsible for why you would hear a song like \"Wait Til You See My Dick\" played on broadcast radio at PM in the afternoon. They are one of the big four radio conglomerates that exist today and the reason you don\'t hear a lot of quality artists being played on the radio. While TV One may look like a viable alternative to the madness going on over at BET, if you really examine it, it is more of the same in a different wrapper. This argument has nothing to do wit providing diversity in programming or the quality of broadcast media for people of color, it is about who will be financially subsidized by the government. Don\'t get it twisted, The lesser of two evils is still evil..

Cathy Hughes and Bob Johnson both got\'s to go...

S. Johnson on Mar 27, 2009 at 16:35:30 said:

First off, BET does not show just a bunch of music videos and shows targeting the younger audience. BET only has one music show titled "106 & Park" the rest of the shows are filled with news programs, reality shows, and reruns of popular television shows such as Girlfriends and The Game. To suggest that the new station not target a younger audience is crazy. Both TV One and BET have shows that targets both the older and younger generations and are doing ok. And news flash, before Bob Johnson sold BET there was a show on there that focused on teaching the younger generation about many of the things you are talking about, as well as dealt with teaching them how to not conform and how to deal with peer pressure (remember Teen Summit). I believe that there is enough room on a new station to address all the issues you propose as well as entertain a younger audience. And as for Cathy Hughes fighting the creation of another Urban network is just plain disgraceful. We need another network, one that will broadcast our shows (not just reruns of our shows). That's why we have a very popular show threatening to be cancelled simply because it is aired on a mainstream station and they feel the numbers are not comparing to their other programs. Well what do you expect with a show targeting a minority population, of course the numbers are gonna be lower. The point is people we need more channels, and instead of fighting one another on the issue (like we do with everything else in our community) we need to ban together and push for better representation.

5280 on Mar 27, 2009 at 12:18:37 said:

It\'s obvious that this is all about money and power. This has nothing to do with the people. There are over 40 million african americans in this nation, so there shouldn\'t be a problem having more then 2 tv stations targeting that audience.

Randall on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:48:45 said:

Bob needs to sit down somewhere. He has made BET a laughing stock and a ghetto mess. He had the opportunity to create world class programming that showed Black people in postive lights. He chose infomericals, reruns and music videos. Lead Story, Bev Smith, The BET Nightly News--all great shows, got the ax. Bob Johnson you are worse than white racist people - you are a disgrace to out race. BET needs to be taken off the air. Permanetely. Ms. Hughes, keep up the good work!!!!

Rafael Smith on Mar 27, 2009 at 08:07:10 said:

I feel that TV One should welcome such a network. As one their target audience, i feel that we need more one network. To say that we only need one network is limiting your audience to watch other networks. And i also feel that its a good thing that Mr. Johnson is investing into another urban network because he needs to build his image with some of Obama voters after siding with Hillary.

But don't take my word for it, i'm just an somewhat educated black man from North Carolina.

M. Gilliard on Mar 27, 2009 at 07:21:03 said:

Pleasssssssse let us get something besides that stereotypical thing we call an urban television network aka BET. BET used to be about something now it\'s just sad what they force feed us as entertainment.

St. Brown M.S., COO on Mar 24, 2009 at 20:40:00 said:

First and formost there is plenty of room for MULTIPLE Ethnic networks on cable. The major cable stations are constantly reshuffling their programs. TV ONE is a welcome change to BET. Their programming is different. I would also recommend that both stations get into teaching community members how to be television producers, utilize local community stations and conduct workshops on television production.

We have enough Gospel, Rap, and Music Shows for the younger population. However, you have totally lost your older audience.

Check ALL major cities to see what has, is or is about to be produced by local AA talent and ask yourself can these programs be brought onto the major networks with a little more polish?

We need GOOD, CLEAN programming that represents positive role modeling, Less swear words, less sexually suggestive language and images. Talk Shows, Home Improvement Shows, Senior shows. We need a network for the Baby Boomers. We don't want to hear hip hop. We want to hear 50,60,70's music. We want to the difference between whole life, universal life, term insurance, fixed annuities and indexed annuities.

I am also an insurance agent, so I know many seniors do not have a clue about these products until they actually have to make a decision.

Shows that teach people about events, and occupations. I have a Masters in Vocational Counseling. I have been a Vocational Counselor and Workers Compensation Consultant for over 3000 people over the years. Have a weekly show about OCCUPATIONS and EDUCATION for our YOUTH.

I was a Concesionaire for 2.6 yrs You should produce a show on Carnivals, Fair, Flea Markets, featuring black owned businesses. How many people have ever been to the Baltimore Heritage Festival? Have a show on the various Juneteenth Celebrations around the country. There are many positive AA festivals and events that never get the exposure or coverage they deserve. Make these places a destination for a summer vacation.

Do a show on Historical AA homes and history?

Fortune 100 Executive discussions on writing business plans, Venture Capital, Angel Funds for the African American Community.

Create Medical Shows by BLACK medical professionals that teach about health issues similar to Dr. Oz on Oprah. These shows should be on Weekly.

Create shows from the Criminal Justice Programs around the country that talk about the bio-chip and the 20/20 neural chip. Educate consumers on human experimentation in the 21st century.

I am a reseller to GREEN TECHNOLOGY. We distribute and resell Green Energy Products. How many people of color are into Solar Panels, Wind Energy, Geo Thermal Technology, Recyclable products, etc?

I have a number of shows I would like to produce on that subject alone.

If you ever need credible ideas about television programming for the AA community.
I am Vice President of Marketing for the MN Black Pages. We have 40,000 distribution in our small AA population. However, I am also the Corporate Organizational Officer and National Sales Director for UDSUS. I have produced shows for Northwest Cable Television and I have TONS of ideas and marketing experienece to help you create, write and produce and market the new television programming.

Please feel free to contact me at:
612-636-1271 or

Steve Brown M.S.,
Green Energy Consultant
Corporate Organizational Officer
Marketing Director
Insurance Agent
Television Producer
Curriculum Developer
Career Vocational Counselor
21st Century Entrepreneur




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