30 years ago, Sheila Johnson and her ex-husband Bob Johnson launched BET with very little money and big time investments. Media conglomerate Viacom bought them out 10 years ago making the Johnsons, before Oprah, America’s first black billionaires.
BET’s turn for the worse is no secret to many of us. In a 2008 interview with CLUTCH, Sheila Johnson reinforced her disappointment with the network–particularly it’s degradation of women. According to The Daily Beast, Sheila Johnson is not only disappointed, she believes the network possibly contributes to the AIDS epidemic.
The philanthropist who focuses her energy on raising awareness on the AIDS crisis in D.C. says, “Don’t even get me started. I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids [a 20-something daughter and a college-age son] that they don’t watch. I’m ashamed of it, if you want to know the truth.”
Johnson produced The Other City, a documentary directed by filmmaker Susan Koch about the AIDS epidemic in Washington D.C. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. Johnson who has no connection to BET reportedly says the network makes matters worse, and potentially contributes to the spread of AIDS by promoting promiscuity and unprotected sex in racy music videos.
But Johnson like many of us remembers the glory days of BET– shows like “Teen Summit” that inspired our generation. Johnson shares, “When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television.” Womp. Guess it’s more like the Smooth magazine on television now.
Learn more about The Other City. Check out the trailer below.