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Competition for BET is good news for TV viewers

Myron-Mays-160WHAT'S HAPPENING MYRON?: Four cable networks broadcast directly to the African-American community as of today – BET, TV One, Aspire and Centric. More are on the way.

Could Bob Johnson have imagined this when he started BET way back in 1981? Maybe, but I say probably not. However, as society changes, so do viewing habits and choice of content.

For years, BET was the central source of programming for content geared toward the African-American community. It was once the only entity of its kind fully owned by an African American. Things changed in 2005 when Johnson sold the company for a cool $3 billion. Yes that was BILLION with a "B".

TV One came along in 2004, but it was only partially black-owned. It was a joint venture between Radio One and what was once known as NBC Universal, which is now Comcast.

Comcast, the largest cable system in the world, recently announced plans to launch 10 new channels over the course of eight years. Eight of those channels will be evenly split between – and independently owned and operated by – African Americans and Hispanics. One of those channels, Aspire, has already been launched; another channel called "Revolt" is set to launch in July. Aspire is a family & faith channel owned and operated by businessman and NBA legend Magic Johnson. The other is called Revolt, an MTV alternative that will be own and operated by Diddy.

This initiative should really offer some real diversity among African-American viewers, who watch more television than any other racial group. According to Nielsen data, African American viewers watch twice as much television as Asians and over 57 more hours than whites.

And although cable television is still largely white, it would be great to not only have more choice of channels to watch, but more choice of programming as well. This has got to mean good news as for as "creativity" is concerned. There's an audience out there that wants to be properly served. I can't wait to see what these channels and the others to come have in store for us.

Here's What's Happening

Music and culture rule this weekend in Memphis. The Memphis Black Arts Alliance presents "Soulsville on Fire" this Saturday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at The Firehouse Community Arts Center at 985 South Bellevue. It will be a great venue for kids and adults to experience music, dance and theatre and also enjoy face painting, as well as a petting zoo. Find out more by visiting www.memphisblack artsalliance.org.

Also, the first weekend of May is always booked on my calendar. As usual, you can find me somewhere near the Mississippi River for the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Fest. The line-up is always great and this year is business as usual. The Roots always return to Memphis year after year, however, one of my favorite old school hip-hop groups are gonna be coming to town this time.

Public Enemy – fresh off of their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – is gonna grace the stage at the Beale Street Music Fest. I'm hoping that Mr. Flavor Flav can manage to fly below the radar until they get here. It just wouldn't be the same without him.

Also on the ticket is Big Bio from Outkast...without Andre 3000 of course. It would've been so great to have the both of them here performing as Outkast. But one can only wish, right?

If you're a fan of that ol' school "blue-eyed soul", Hall & Oates are gonna be performing this year as well. One thing will notably be missing from that performance...John Oates doesn't wear a mustache anymore.

Anyway, the Beale Street Music Fest goes on all this weekend and you can get the entire line up at www.memphisinmay.org. And if you just so happen to see me in the mix, be sure to say "What's Happening Myron"!

Until then...that's what's happening!

(Got an event you'd like for me to cover or attend? Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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