All Articles Tagged "programming"
African-American TV viewers often complain of the negative images of black people on the tube. Well, ASPiRE has announced a truly positive new series.
The Root 100, an original series for ASPiRE, is a weekly show that will highlight the most influential black leaders under 45, selected by online news outlet, The Root. These honorees featured on the program appeared on this year’s Root 100 list. They include MSNBC journalist Melissa Harris-Perry, actress Gabrielle Union, NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, Sundance award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, among others. Journalist and Anchor Suzanne Malveaux hosts the new show, which will premier December 5.
There will be eight episodes in the series. Each one-hour episode focuses on three honorees discussing intimate moments, turning points in their lives, and their aspirations to affect change.
“THE ROOT 100 presents a fascinating look at two dozen diverse and extraordinary African-Americans, who are using their voices and platforms to fundamentally change our community and our world for the better,” said ASPiRE General Manager Paul Butler in a press release.
ASPiRE is a television network targeted to African-Americans and offers a programming mix of movies, series and specials featuring music, comedy, drama, faith/inspiration, theater/performing arts, lifestyle and news/information. The network was launched June 27, 2012 by Magic Johnson Enterprises.
Last year, YouTube put more than $100 million into a program that would build up its online “channels” that broadcast original content, an attempt to put online videos in head-to-head competition with television. Now, going into the program’s second year, Google and YouTube won’t renew all of those partnerships.
Google will renew contracts for about 30 percent to 40 percent of their partners, and those that are not renewed can decide to abandon the channel, or, if they want to stay on YouTube, must pay back the original investment before they are allowed to sell their own ads. Advertising Age reported there were 100 original partners that received up to $5 million in an advance against advertising revenue from Google and YouTube and in October, 60 new channels were funded.
While YouTube has not yet announced which channels will make the cut, AdAge’s list of the top 25 original content channels gives an idea of which channels are doing well in terms of views.
AllThingsD spoke to Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s director of content strategy, and reported, “The site is most concerned about engagement—primarily the total ‘watch time’ a channel has generated—and cost—how efficient programmers have been with their programming budget.”
YouTube’s investment in 60 new channels in October included international channels and a focus on a diverse audience, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper reported that YouTube hopes to diversify its audience by partnering with celebrities including Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, and Queen Latifah to engage black consumers. Issa Rae, the creator of “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” has seen success with original content on YouTube, though the second season of her show was funded via a Kickstarter campaign and not this program from YouTube.
“YouTube executives see an opportunity to fund original programming for these audiences, which are underserved by traditional media,” the Times wrote.
As YouTube learns from and evolves its original content strategy, hopefully content from Simmons, Rae, and others in the black community can shine and gain more investment—and engagement—online.
When I read “Why BET Shouldn’t Compete With VH1’s Ratchet Reality Shows,” I was puzzled by criticism of my article, “If Black Reality TV Is A Winner for VH1, Why Is BET Still Losing?” Clutch magazine writer Britni Danielle feels that to “insinuate that [BET] lower their standards instead of raising them is a problem.” I agree.
My article pointed to “real stories of African Americans – not the sanitized or overcompensating versions” as a possible solution to BET’s failure to produce a reality show as popular as VH1’s offerings. “[These stories] have more than enough drama to keep audiences coming back for more.”
I can’t speak for the race, but the drama in my life and those around me doesn’t look like anything on Love & Hip Hop…most of the time. Some stereotypes are based on reality, but many of the stories black culture has to offer don’t play out like a Mona Scott-Young production or what’s on BET.
It’s a testament to the quality of programming geared toward African Americans that drama automatically has a negative connotation. To that I say, “all rachet-ry is drama, but not all drama is rachet.”
When I ask for drama, I want stories that are interesting. I want characters that aren’t caricatures, but real people with good and bad attributes. Kerry Washington’s Scandal character Olivia Pope is a prime example. Despite [SPOILER ALERT] sleeping with the President and a host of other quirks that kept Twitter buzzing, her character has yet to be dubbed a stereotype. Idris Elba’s Luther is another example, which I’m happy to see BET has chosen to air in syndication.
Why doesn’t BET attempt this complexity in its original programming? BET could try to change the game of reality television with a show that portrays issues African Americans are facing without relying on the stereotypes and storylines we always see. They opt to rely on tired formulas of squeaky-clean performances that lack authenticity, stereotyping that does the same, or the old standby of trotting out a celebrity.
And while BET can certainly improve the writing on some of its shows, the answer isn’t to jump into the muddy waters of negative black female stereotypes, but rather continue to improve on what they’ve already started: (re)building a network that shows us in various lights, not just through the hot prism of a modern day minstrel show.
I’m glad BET is attempting to show us in various lights. Shows like Sunday Best, Black Girls Rock!, and Real Husbands of Hollywood are signs the network is thinking outside the box. But, BET has to continue to push itself.
Whether they want to or not, BET competes with the watercooler and Twitter-friendly excitement on VH1. You can disagree with the stories VH1 tells, but you can’t deny that they keep their viewers engaged. Positivity alone doesn’t cut it; you have to tell a good story. Even Oprah had to learn that programming has to be entertaining.
I speculated that pressure to uplift the race was the issue holding BET back. Perhaps the network feels we would take anything that doesn’t pander to Black America as a slight to the race. For example, would Scandal have been received as well if it was a BET production?
We need to continue to critique the content the network produces (as well as the criticism we level against it), offering solutions rather than vague complaints, or we will never see change. What is the purpose of a channel devoted to black entertainment other than to tell the true stories of black culture with all its diversity and complications? If BET doesn’t serve its purpose, what’s the point of it?
With Declining Viewership and Staged Storylines, Are Reality TV Shows Slowly But Surely Falling Off?
Reality TV is something that people love in the comfort of their homes, ridicule on Twitter, and highly favor on the blogs and the tabloids. It’s something of an art (term used very loosely here) and while there are more than enough series to fill up your DVR for the entire year, it seems as though reality TV has hit a bump in the road both in terms of viewership and creativity.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that TV in general isn’t pulling in the ratings because of the summer. Most people are either working hard and sticking to DVR’ing their favorites or just soaking up the sun and staying away from the TV in general. This summer, ABC decided to join the singing contest bandwagon with “Duets” with successful judges like John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Robin Thicke. The season opened with okay numbers (six million viewers) in May, but quickly fell to less than four million viewers for its season finale in July. Another promising series for reality TV fanatics was Bristol Palin’s show entitled “Bristol Plain: Life’s a Tripp” on Lifetime. The show was focused on her new life in her old town (yawn) with her son and everyone’s favorite political punch bag, Sarah Palin. Not even her mom could help her ratings; the show tanked with just 726,000 viewers for its first episode, and dropping to a low 426,000 on its second.
The summer premieres of scripted shows like ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars,” TNT’s “The Closer” and the newly renovated “Dallas” are pulling in more viewers than reality favorites like “So You Think You Can Dance,” Jersey Shore girlies’ “Snooki & JWOWW,” and VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” (although L&HH leads in the ratings for Monday Nights with almost two million viewers and is itself a hit for the network). But what’s popular among African-American viewers?
According to Reachingblackconsumers.com, last season, the top reality shows for black teens 12-17 included “Bad Girls Club,” adults 18-24, “T.I & Tiny: The Family Hustle,” and the 18-54 demographic closes the list with Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” With a combined total of over 1.19 million viewers, they haven’t raked in the largest numbers.
Black sitcoms/dramas are pulling in a lot more viewers. With just the encores of “Single Ladies,” “The Game” and “Let’s Stay Together” nearly doubling that average weekly, one would ask the question: Are we done with reality television? I wouldn’t put down the petitions just yet, but we may be getting there…
Haven’t We Seen This Before?
I sneaked a peak at the ninth (yes, ninth) season of “Bad Girls Club” during an episode that my cousin was watching the other day. Now, she absolutely loves everything drama filled and thinks it’s all “Amahhzing,” but even she was bored with the new season. “It’s more obvious that they [producers] are starting all the fights,” she finally realized.
There aren’t any secrets anymore when it comes to creating the story. We’re all able to spot out the villain, the victim, the b****, and the weakest link – and we all know the sob stories. Viewers are expecting something surprising when watching television, and even though I think we can all agree that a majority of it is scripted, it shouldn’t appear as such.
If it’s not enough that some shows are getting more and more predictable and fake, it doesn’t help that everyone is trying to do the same type of reality show. Need an example? How about the producers of “Big Brother” (CBS) who are suing the creator and producers of ABC’s new show “The Glass House.” The shows are very similar: A bunch of randoms are stuck in a house with cameras all over to compete for money while dealing with the drama that they (or writers) create. And it doesn’t help that many of the former employees of “Big Brother” are now working for the “Glass House.”
“Duets” is like “The Voice,” and “The X Factor” is like “American Idol.” You can find a different rehab-meets-intervention show depending on what channel you choose, and we’re just waiting patiently for The Real Housewives of Alaska. And if you hadn’t also noticed, there’s a reality competition to get in damn near every occupation you want: modeling, cooking, acting, etc. and one for every hobby and job available (towing, working in pawn shops, fishing, being a hairstylist, a doctor, as well as a gypsy and a jailed mobster’s wife). We could be reaching reality TV overload.
The Bottom Line: Do We Care Anymore?
There are definitely a load of reality TV shows on now that we probably won’t see again (good luck “Duets”), but for every failure of one, there comes another to take its place. Another celeb ready to put their lives out there, another everyday Joe or Jane Schmo ready to become an overnight celebrity. Do we constantly complain and critique these people who put their lives out there for us to see? Yes. Do we have to watch these shows to live? No. At the end of the day, no one forces anyone to watch reality TV. While it may be on almost every blog and entertainment show, realize why it’s there–there is a general interest and a large audience for them. If we want to see more scripted television with smart plot lines and that give real hardworking actors jobs, the attention should be placed on Meagan Good and Laz Alonso’s new fall show, “Infamous,” Kerry Washington’s upcoming second season of “Scandal” or even Michael Jai White and Tasha Smith’s new comedy, “For Better or Worse.” Then we may see an even bigger change in the programming and the way our people are presented (since that’s what anti-reality TV folks have been calling for). But it all depends on the storylines we see. The more dull or ridiculous things get in a story, the less viewers you’ll see for scripted television and the more you’ll find for reality TV, talking over coffee in the morning about folks with names like Karlie Redd and Joseline. Why? Well, let’s keep it real. Sometimes it’s nice to see that in one hour, your life isn’t as much of a hot mess as someone else’s. So while it might have been a cruel summer for reality TV, once fall comes around, those barking about the options now will probably be circled around somebody’s computer talking about “Basketball Wives” and RHOA. So in the meantime, support what you want to see more of, and stop partaking in what you would like to see less of. Do your part and hope that the reality TV overload will die down (or die off completely) soon enough.
But don’t hold your breath…
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The American Medical Association’s “Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S., 2012 Edition,’’ states that black female physicians made up less than 2% of nearly 1 million US doctors in 2010. That seems extraordinarily low, but think about it, how many black female physicians do you know? (Melanie from “The Game” doesn’t count!)
Could a Disney cartoon starring a young, black, female doctor improve those dismal statistics and encourage more young women to aspire to be doctors?
We soon shall see.
Disney is definitely taking a step in the right direction with “Doc McStuffins.” The show’s Wikipedia page describes Doc as a a six-year-old girl who, one day, wants to become a doctor like her mother. As a kid, she “pretends” to be a doctor by fixing up toys and dolls. A twist of Disney’s Toy Story franchise, when Doc puts on her stethoscope, toys, dolls and stuffed animals come to life and she can communicate with them. With a little help from her stuffed animal friends, Stuffy, Hallie, Lambie and Chilly, Doc helps toys “feel better” by giving them check-ups. Each 11-minute episode includes original songs and the “Time for your Check-up” song, and during ending credits, Doc gives advice to viewers about staying healthy. The show is described as a sophisticated, CG-animated series that doesn’t talk down to its young audience.
The series was created by Chris Nee. who isn’t black (or an Asian male as her name may lead you to believe), but the show stars several black actors including young black actress Kiara Muhammad and seasoned black actress Loretta Devine.
Nee says she created the series to demystify doctors for little kids after a particularly scary trip to the hospital with her son as she detailed in her interview with AfterEllen.com. However, Nee is credited for creating a show that is doing much more than that. The show is also portraying a young black girl in a role that we don’t often see. Boston.com reported that Nee said Disney encouraged her to create Doc as a minority character from the beginning and she hopes the series resonates with all of the kids who watch it, especially girls who tend to develop a negative view of science at a young age.
That’s a lot of pressure for a cartoon, but not far-fetched considering how powerful television can be in creating role models for young children. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says American children spend an average of three to four hours every day watching television and children of color spend the most time viewing television, so this is definitely a show that Black families should consider actively supporting.
Last week, the show sent out a press release saying Doc McStuffins is a hit for kids age 2-7 and has been ordered for a second season on both the Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Disney will also introduce “Doc McStuffins” books, apparel, party goods and role play toys, dolls and accessories.
This is great news for a company that was once rightfully accused of ignoring the black children that watch their network and movies. And it’s even better news for the kids who are watching.
As Dr. Myiesha Taylor points out on her site Coily Embrace that sure young kids can aspire to be Beyonce, Lebron or even NeNe Leakes but kids need to know there’s more than entertainment, sports or fashion industry success, and instead pursue careers in higher education, medicine, or as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Here’s hoping that Doc McStuffins is only the beginning of a new trend.
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By Makula Dunbar
From office receptionist to web application developer, it was Monique Boea’s curiosity of what the tech industry was all about that encouraged her leap. “The $80-90,000+ salaries that were being offered caught my eye,” said Boea, founder of African-American Women in Technology. “I started getting curious and asking ‘What is this web development stuff?’ One of my coworkers said, ‘It’s too hard. Keep answering the phones.’”
Perceiving her coworker’s doubt as a challenge, Boea researched the field discovering that language was the driver behind software programs and the Internet. Self-taught in Photoshop, Boea was able to convince the software team at her office to let her take over the creative end of application development. Soon after she studied and grasped different programming languages, she landing her first job in IT. Read on to learn what AAWIT is all about and how Boea mastered the web development space.
How exactly did you get involved in web application development?
I worked for a while in the creative capacity and started studying a few programming languages. At this time ComputerJobs.com, a popular IT job site was starting and needed someone to build the company Intranet. I had the graphics part down, but ComputerJobs.com used Cold Fusion, a programming language that I had never heard of before. Somehow I convinced myself and the hiring manager that I could not only learn the language, but learn it well enough and fast enough to build it by a certain deadline. I landed my first web development job and made the deadline. I went on to work as a Web Application Developer for several major companies like Cingular Wireless and AIG.
Personally, what is it about this field that excites you the most?
The ability to be creative, solve problems and build applications that I know the world will use. I love everything about it.
Can you elaborate on your role as a developer and how your career has changed over the years?
The population of the United States is more diverse than ever, but you wouldn’t know it by the TV guide. The number of roles for African-Americans has improved…slightly. There were over 30 Black actors and actresses on the primetime pilots scheduled for last Fall, and sprinkled throughout ensemble casts like Grey’s Anatomy. However, predominately minority casts are few, and largely regulated to cable channels like BET and TBS. For better or for worse, reality television is leading the way for diversity on TV. And that may not be such a bad thing.
Thanks to attractive economics, the reality format has come to rule the airwaves. Reality programming is cheaper than traditional programming in every way imaginable. It requires less equipment, a smaller crew, and fewer paid performers. Networks see reality television as a saving grace to balance the price of programming across their schedule.
Viewers and critics often lament the Black sitcoms of yesterday, complaining that shows like The Jeffersons, Martin, and Girlfriends are nonexistent. But, sitcoms are in decline overall. The popularity of reality television has come at the expense of the sitcom. In 2002-03, reality’s share of the top 10 prime time show audience almost tripled to 63%, while sitcoms’ share declined by more than half to 17%, according to historical data from The Nielsen Company. The television business and viewers’ taste has changed. It’s a safe bet that we will never see the amount of scripted Black sitcoms we had in the 90’s again.
Admittedly, most of reality television relies on well-worn stereotypes of women and minorities to shape its characters. Basketball Wives is not doing the image of Black women any favors. Even in showslike Survivor, minorities aren’t cast positively. Diversity means differences. Differences often stoke conflict, and conflict equals ratings. Watching Bad Girls Club can give one the urge to weep for the careers of talented out of work Black actors; however, is it possible that reality television can uplift, as well as tear us down?
Things are looking up for BET in terms of viewers. This year marked the third consecutive year of growth for the network and 2011 is BET’s most watched year ever among all viewers, according to Nielsen. There’s not much to choose from in terms of black networks, still many people had sworn off BET because of the steady decline of quality programs and the increased promotion of rap culture and the questionable lyrics and lifestyle that go along with it. So is the growth of BET a positive sign of the network’s transformation or an indication that viewer’s aren’t looking for quality?
In 2011, BET had more top ranked original programming among Black viewers than any other network, with The Game coming in at no. 1, Let’s Stay Together at no. 2, Sunday Best at no. 4, and Reed Between the Lines at no. 9. A Toya Family Affair, Born to Dance, and The Family Crews Season 2 also ranked in the top 20.
The success of BET’s scripted content caused BET to have the largest audience growth of any other cable network among Black women 18-49 on Tuesday Nights, placing it in the no. 3 position for that day. Season 4 of The Game also ranks no. 1 in ad-supported cable TV history, averaging 4.3 million viewers. The show also ranks among the top 5 series on cable TV among Adults 18-49.
It appears BET has found a way to balance its content between reality TV, scripted series, and music programming like 106 & Park and its music awards to bring in a female audience and strengthen its viewership. With T. J. Holmes joining the network, they also have an opportunity to share news stories African Americans want to see and can’t find on other programs, and restore some of the network’s lost integrity.
Do you watch any shows on BET? Have you noticed an improvement in their programming? Do you think growth of the network is a good thing?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(CNN) — When BET launched 30 years ago, they were the only kid that looked like them on the block. The network aimed at black viewers stood alone in a spotlight that often shone brightest on the criticisms against them — from shoddy productions to less than positive imagery of the black community via what some viewed as misogynistic, hyper-sexualized music videos. These days, the network is trying to shake those negative views with expanded programming, an initiative to take the brand global and a new channel, Centric, aimed at older adults
BET recently had its upfronts, where the network revealed its plans for next season. One of BET’s main channels, CENTRIC, is certainly continuing on its road to becoming what audiences have been wanting to see from BET from the start: programming that entertains and informs.
It is a refreshing balance and fans can certainly be hopeful that finally, finally, BET is getting it. Even Aaron McGruder would be hard pressed to find too much to say about its endeavors these days. Along with the BET’s new slate of programming for it’s flagship channel and web properties, CENTRIC is rolling out new shows like Vindicated. Hosted by Common, this docu-series focuses on black men and women exonerated for crimes they did not commit.
Vindicated is a great move for BET overall and certainly raise its credibility. Along with Vindicated, CENTRIC will also be rolling out The Steve Harvey Project, which will showcase the ubiquitous comedian’s dating expertise and his weekday morning show. Almost Married rounds out its slate of new programming. It is, as you may have guessed, a reality show chronicling the trials and tribulations of black love through the relationship of Latice Crawford and Jeff Spain (two former Sunday Best competitors). Videos and The Soul Train Awards will also be part of the channel’s mix. 30 years after BET first hit the airwaves, it may be safe to say that 2010 may shape up to be one of its best programming years to date.
For more information, go to BET’s Media Center.