Black Entertainment Television: Impact of Corporate Ownership on Black Media

© Media Watch 7 (2) 160-173, 2016
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
DOI: 10.15655/mw/2016/v7i2/98748

Black Entertainment Television: Impact of Corporate Ownership on Black Media

University of California, USA

In 2001, CEO and owner of Black Entertainment Television (BET) Bob Johnson, sold majority ownership to Viacom with much controversy. Many people in the black community questioned the appropriateness of a network that claimed to represent black life being under the defacto control of a white dominated corporation. This study seeks to assess the impact of the change in ownership upon the way African Americans are represented in BET’s programming. The study begins by placing black popular cultures roots in the minstrel show and shows how that form of media continues to plague American popular culture, and indeed, BET, today. The study then undertakes an interpretive textual analysis to show that BET shows and programming, under the ownership of a white corporation is used as a mechanism of white imperialistic ideological domination.

Keywords: Race, media, sociology, racialization, minstrelsy, corporate interest


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Jermaine Hekili Cathcart is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. Jermaine Cathcart’s research interest includes media studies and the process of racialization as a system of control, sports, race and class and critical criminology.