BET goes int’l via U.K. cabler

Black Entertainment Television, the U.S. cabler specializing in African-American culture, has made its first step into the international market by taking a 40% stake in the new London cable service Identity TV.

The company is also studying the possibility of launching a channel in English-speaking Africa, said BET president Bob Johnson at Identity’s launch Tuesday.

“It is our intention to become the preeminent and dominant black media company on the globe,” he said.

BET is supplying Identity with four hours of programming a day, and has made a small cash investment of “a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” Johnson said.

Identity will have a six-hour schedule, which it will repeat three times a day. Its BET programs include “Comicview,””Love Between the Sexes,””Personal Diary,””Rap City,””Video LP” and “Video Soul.”

The channel is launching initially in London’s 150,000 cable homes via the so-called “London Interconnect,” which links the city’s five main cable systems. It will become available in the rest of Britain by the end of the year.

Internationally, Johnson said, the company’s strategy is to build “a brand that we can put anyplace and generate a certain amount of awareness, and then put product and programming behind the brand.”

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