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Robert Lee Johnson

Robert Lee Johnson

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Cable TV executive who in 1980 founded Black Entertainment TV (BET), the only black-owned and oriented national cable channel, with $15,000 of his own money and a $500,000 investment from cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. Despite a rocky history, the network, which features many music videos by African-American performers, college sports, movies, news and talk shows, has adopted a 24-hour format and Johnson has gradually seen its modest ratings increase. Unafraid to confront MTV with its domination of airing rights to black music videos, Johnson has also worked to produce original TV dramas and celebrity shows for his network and continues to explore the growing realm of pay-per-view TV.

Cable TV executive who in 1980 founded Black Entertainment TV (BET), the only black-owned and oriented national cable channel, with $15,000 of his own money and a $500,000 investment from cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. Despite a rocky history, the network, which features many music videos by African-American performers, college sports, movies, news and talk shows, has adopted a 24-hour format and Johnson has gradually seen its modest ratings increase. Unafraid to confront MTV with its domination of airing rights to black music videos, Johnson has also worked to produce original TV dramas and celebrity shows for his network and continues to explore the growing realm of pay-per-view TV.

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