From Yinka's head...

Sell me the steak. Not the sizzle

BET Networks Logo

So we went to the BET presentation on 5th Feb 2009...

We were there to hear what BET and Glen Yearwood, (apparently the person responsible for BET happening in the UK), ably supported by one of our industry’s media veterans, Roy Francis, had to say.

On the plus side, the omens are good:

  • The first-ever international act on BET’s flagship gospel show Celebration Of Gospel, was our very own Muyiwa.
  • After a relatively quiet launch in the UK about 12 months ago, viewing figures (according to the numbers Glen was quoting us) were heading in the right direction as far as the channel’s growth was concerned.
  • And there was more good news on offer; BET was looking to commission more local programming, so in the coming months the channel should look less like a US outpost and more like it actually belongs here.

Taking us seriously…

Furthermore, BET took the UK gospel scene seriously enough to actually put on this presentation

So it’s all good in the hood…

Ah, but you know me too well. I always look for the cloud around the silver lining.

  • I’m also ever so happy to break out the magnifying glass and have a rummage around the gift horse’s oral cavity…
  • I don’t believe in cynicism for the sake of it, but I left the presentation with a few unanswered questions, chief of which was: ‘what’s in it for us…?

We’ve been here before.

Sure, advertising on BET gets your church/product/service a wider audience, but what’s really in it for us?  Wider exposure in return for your money into BET’s account?

Erm, thanks but no thanks.  Not just yet.

Question is: are there things in the UK that are just as worthy of investing in…?  Discuss.

International influence

I ain’t hating on BET.  From what I can see (and I have to admit to not watching a lot of the channel) they’ve effectively taken US Black culture and packaged it such that the diaspora has fallen in love with it.

All you have to do is check the millions wannabe hood dudes and gangsters from Lagos to Trenchtown on millions of other Black TV channels to see the BET (or is that MTV?) effect on world Black culture.

I mean, why would anyone be looking to wear heavy winter fashion in the tropics???

‘Push first, ask questions later…’

To their credit BET has also pushed UK gospel via the Muyiwa feature on a truly global scale.  They didn’t have to.  They could have made the pitch first and waited for our response.

If I wanted to be harsh, I’d say that kind of  ‘push first, ask questions later’ attitude is certainly more than we’re doing at the moment,  but I don’t, so I won’t…

I still want more, however.

I want the steak of effective engagement (rather than just us being encouraged to take out advertising on BET), rather than the sizzle of the shiny BET logo…  Surely we have the people and skills to engage with BET at that kind of level..?

And what if I mix my metaphors…?

(More like this?  See ‘Sold Down The River – With Our Own Boat‘)

4 replies »

  1. It’s been a little over 6 months since this piece was originally published. I’d be interested to hear from all areas of the UK Gospel Music industry on the impact/influence that BET’s content being available in the UK has made.

    To be clear, I’m not having a cynical ‘pop’ at the channel. This is more a fact finding requests. What has it done for you in your work (I specifically didn’t use the word ‘ministry’ – that’s a different blog).

    Let me know with examples where it’s been positive, negative or neutral? Have your sales increased? Is there more awareness in the scene? Has it given you more to aspire to? Have you gotten on air? Are you in development with ‘rival’ networks to produce more Gospel output?

    Any effect will be appreciated. Let’s build on this.



  2. ummmm did BET launch in the UK??….just saying!!! All I see is US content nothing from the UK. If you are going to set up in another territory, you want to see their content predominantly been shown & a little of everything else. So for me, it hasn’t done anything for the UK.


  3. They’ve only taken a couple of us namely Jahaziel and Muyiwa and done those montage things for “be inspired” they’ve done some specials on a few Nigerian gospel artists. That’s about it. They went to Nigeria and got a contestant for “Sunday Best” their x factor-like gospel program but it didn’t feel like that part of the show was put together to favour Nigeria, it was just a good show for laughs and Muyiwa came off in a bad way because he didn’t play up to the camera like Donnie McKlurkin and Kim Burrel did. He came off looking like Simon Cowel because he took being a judge seriously hehehe

    The best thing about that channel is The Mo’nique Show and that’s just for my personal entertainment, there’s nothing on it that affects my work!

    I think Smooflow from Royal Priesthood tried to approach them with some content andd programming but I think it was too black for them……..


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