The founder of BET, a entertainment network for African-Americans, is calling out Oprah Winfrey on her new startup, OWN, otherwise known as the Oprah Winfrey Network. Sheila Johnson believes that the media mogul is not doing enough to encourage diversity on-air.

Johnson passed on some words of wisdom to Winfrey in a recent interview with NPR’s Michael Martin, who commented on the lack of diversity in the network.

“The only advice that I say, let’s open up your circle a little bit more. You know, we love the Dr. Phils. We love the Suze Ormans,” Johnson said. “Let’s open up. There are other people. And there’s also African-American experts out there that I think she should start bringing on her show that can reach even a wider audience.”

Outside of the debut of  Oprah’s best friend Gayle King’s television show and a few appearances by minorities in “Master Class”, there is indeed a lack of diverse talent currently on air at ‘OWN’, which is currently led by CEO Christina Norman. Norman, an African-American woman, served as the former president of Viacom, which now owns BET.

It is questionable on whether or not Johnson’s comments are fair. Although the creation of BET is a success story on its own, the African-American has become increasingly wary of the network, especially after the buildup of the CEOs’ own wealth with BET programming that has been criticized as misogynistic, disparaging, and no longer black owned.

Do you feel that Johnson’s comments against OWN are fair?

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  • Shay

    Can we allow the network to actually choose the direction it wants to go in? This is kind of like Obama being in office for one month and people already had a report card out on him for what he’s done for the nation.

    Talk about Impatient. I think that OWN will eventually come around and be customized to what its supposed to be .Oprah’s audience, the one that made her famous, was not all black so her programming isn’t going to be either. Give it a chance

  • Exactly Shay. We do not yet have enough data to suggest a trend line. Totally agree. Let it develop. In any case, the market will dictate.

  • Sheila Johnson founded BET but she no longer owns it nor runs it and she has made several statements of dis-satisfaction with the direction of BET and has also stated that her children don’t even watch BET anymore so i would say it is not the pot calling the kettle black because when she headed BET it was still a great network and yes i do agree with her, OPRAH has backed a number of shows and non of them with the exception of her own show represent black people or even have black hosts so I do agree that own should be more diverse.

  • OhMyEyes

    Leave it to black people to be the first to criticize other black people. I know she and her ex-husband sold BET years ago, but she should be more focused on the mess it has become rather than sticking her nose in Oprah’s business.