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[04/12/05 - 12:00 AM]
BET Upfront '05 Packs Trainload of New Shows for Spring, Fall Rollout as Network Heats Up Originals

[via press release from BET]

BET Upfront '05 Packs Trainload of New Shows for Spring, Fall Rollout as Network Heats Up Originals

Rappers Ludacris, Kanye West and Nelly Join R&B's John Legend for BET Unveiling

NEW YORK, April 12 -- Set against flashy metallic staging of a futuristic train station, BET sounded the whistle for advertisers and viewers to climb aboard for a trainload of new programming set for spring and fall release by the network. BET Founder and CEO Robert Johnson along side President and Chief Operating Officer Debra Lee led BET's executive "conductors" for the railroad-themed 2005 BET Upfront presentation to advertising clients, media buyers and industry watchers today at the Manhattan Center Studios.

BET also used the presentation as a formal kickoff to year-long special programming and other activities in recognition of BET's 25th anniversary year, which will culminate with a televised mega-special also this fall. Lee says that this particular Upfront was an especially important one for the network.

"BET's position as the Number 1 network for African Americans is as solid as it has ever been, with ratings continuing to climb even with a changing competitive marketplace," said Lee. "Our increased investment in original programming and a newly-established development division to feed that commitment should send a powerful signal to advertisers and media buyers about the outstanding future of our network."

BET punched the tickets on some brand new shows hitting the network in the coming months, led by BLOWIN' UP: FATTY KOO, an unscripted dramatic series following five talented kids from Columbus, Ohio making their way into the high-risk, high-reward music world with their debut CD on the horizon. The saga of the Fatty Koo crew makes its BET premiere on April 21 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT. Hot off the tracks this fall will be REMIXED, a new spin on the makeover genre that not only "remixes" the look and style of the recipient, but also infuses intellectual and personal development with assistance from a special "life coach." BET will also reset the theory of "Apprentice-like" reality shows with the ultimate hard-knock fall season course in the music business for eight "wanna-be" executives in THE ULTIMATE HUSTLER, starring renowned hip-hop mogul and hard-driving entrepreneur Damon Dash.

"We've got the right combination of fresh programming and unrelenting viewer loyalty that no other network has," said Louis Carr, BET President of Advertising Sales. "Our momentum will continue all year long, with something new breaking virtually every quarter. For any advertiser placing a priority on the African-American viewer, BET is the place to be. We deliver the 'Black Experience' at levels well beyond other networks."

"To attract an audience and hold its attention, your programming must have the right talent and hosts, compelling production quality and an intriguing storyline to follow. We've got that and more with this new slate of shows backed by some returning shows that are consistent winners with BET viewers," added Stephen Hill, BET Executive Vice President of Music and Entertainment Programming.

Blended into today's presentation covering new and returning programming were high-energy performances by hip-hop stars Lucadris, Kanye West and Nelly, along with a soulful piano solo rendition of his hit single "Ordinary People" by rising R&B crooner John Legend. Each artist not only thrilled the crowd with their stage presentations, but also expressed appreciation to BET for the network's impact on their careers with its music programming and commitment to African-American culture.

Rap entrepreneur Damon Dash got into the act by hustling the crowd to plug his upcoming reality series on BET. The network also showcased its returning stable of popular talent -- AJ & Free from 106 & PARK, television's top music video countdown show; Mad Linx, host of RAP CITY; new Latina lovely Julissa, host of the afternoon teen show THE STUDENT CENTER; celebrity access duo Big Tigger and Melyssa Ford of BET STYLE; ex-NFL player Anthony "A.D." Dorsett, Jr. of sports feature MAAD SPORTS; high-tech video tracker Ray J from BET.COM COUNTOWN; Jeff Johnson, host of the recently-launched urban documentary series THE COUSIN JEFF CHRONICLES; and spiritual duo Gerard Henry from LIFT EVERY VOICE and Gospel Music Hall-of-Famer Dr. Bobby Jones, host of BOBBY JONES GOSPEL, the longest-running show in BET 25-year history.

Following the presentation, BET announced plans to revamp its approach to News and Public Affairs programming to be faster, more frequent and in direct response to the new ways that BET viewers prefer to receive information. Initial changes involve a shift from the traditional half-hour BET NIGHTLY NEWS newscast at 11 p.m. ET/PT to a more robust infusion of up-to-the-minute news briefs scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, including placement in the coveted primetime viewing hours. BET will also blend into its programming lineup more news specials as driven by current events. A longer-form news magazine or issues analysis program is also being considered.

ABOUT BET

BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA; VIA.B), is the nation's leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 80 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks - BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production; and BET Books, the nation's leading publisher of African-American themed romance novels under the Arabesque imprint which also publishes compelling fiction under the Sepia imprint and inspirational fiction and nonfiction under the New Spirit imprint.

SOURCE BET (Black Entertainment Television)
Web Site: http://www.bet.com





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· APPRENTICE, THE (NBC)





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