Debra Lee: Quieting BET’s critics

    BET Network CEO Debra Lee believes that BET is on the right track with its programming and quieting critics.

    Over the years BET has been a lightning rod for harsh criticism from the public (including network co-founder Sheila Johnson), for airing shows and music videos that many deem as offensive and degrading to women.

    However, over the last few months, BET has exercised its option not to air certain content and has even introduced shows like “Let’s Stay Together” and resurrected canceled CW series “The Game.” In Debra’s opinion, those measures have gone a long way to improving BET’s image.

    “I think the criticism has gone away. The first thing I did, which was in the works anyway, was to create more original programming that shows different images of women,” Debra told FOX Business, explaining her agenda once she took control of BET. “Our sitcoms have started doing that. We’ve got more documentaries. We’re going to get into the drama business.”

    As for music videos, Debra said that BET “grew up” by playing less of that content in order to explore other avenues in its programming. Of the videos it does play, the network CEO said that BET has become more selective.

    “We’ve gotten more strict on what we allow on air,” Debra said. “We used to live by broadcast standards, but as the hip-hop industry got a little more risqué we had actually had to bring that back some and say just because it can be on the air doesn’t mean it has to be on the air.”

    Most notably BET has declined to air the videos for Kanye West’s “Monster” and Ciara’s “Ride.” Rihanna’s raunchy clip for “S&M” was on the chopping block, too.

    “I think Rihanna we’ve been working with,” said Debra. “And that’s sort of amazed me a little bit, that I had to say ‘No’ to women, but someone had to be the grown-up in the room. I didn’t ask for that job but someone had to say ‘No’ in looking at it from our young audience’s perspective.”

    See what else Debra had to say about turning BET around in the video below.




    — Sonya Eskridge




    Here’s more:
    BET Honors 2011 recap

    Review: ‘Let’s StayTogether’

    Was ‘The Game’ a touchdown?

    S2S covers the 2010 BET Honors


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