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serve its viewers with additional pro
gramming. ; ??
Neal openly admits that it's a diffi
cult chore to select games that will pro
duce excitement on the field and fan
appeal on folks TV screens. When you 'ft
a part of the "national media, program
planning is best done on an advance
For example, the *88 football broad
cast schedule was made up in July, nearly
two months before the start of the season.
. "It's like spinning a bottle and waiting for
it to stop spinning and seeing where it
points," Neal says in jest. "There's really
no way you can tell if the games you pick
to air in July will be the same type of
game you think it will be when it's played
Rivalries, match-ups, pre-season pre
dictions, and projections of the teams
involved are the main items that Neal
looks at in making up the BET sports
"I have to sit down, look at the
teams, look at what they did the year
before, who they have coming back, and
make a choice of whether or not a partic
ular match-up will be good for us to show
on the air. We try not to show the same
teams all the time. Our thinking is to try
and give everybody (schools) a piece of
One example of this involves the
haskethalLrivalry between Xavier and
Dillaid in New Orleans. Both schools are
Division III members, but the interest
generated by the game has prompted
" BET to aihjhat contest
Still, there are those aren't satisfied
that the network has been equitable in its
coverage ? specifically, schools in the
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Confer
ence. SI AC schools have been featured
on a very sparse basis in past years. Only
Tuskegee and Fort Valley State have
appeared in football. None of the confer
ence's schools have played a BET basket
ball game yet.
SIAC observers consider this a bit
strange, considering that in basketball,
Alabama A & M was the only team to
Photo courtesy of Bl^ck Entertainment Television
"It's like spinning a bottle an<rWalting for it to stop and seeing where It points.
There's really no way to tell if the game you pick in July will be the same type
of game you think it will be when it's played in October."
- Charlie Neal, BET Sports Director
advance very far in last season's Division
II basketball playoffs. The Bulldogs fin
ished the regular season ranked No. 3 in
That will change this month. The
Bulldogs will play Alabama State in the
network's first black college basketball
broadcast this year. In addition, other
teams who haven't gotten air time in
recent years, will do so this year ? Texas
Southern, for one.
However, there are valid reasons
why some teams may~get more air time
than others, Neal explains. The playing
facility of a game has to be conducive to
television. Lighting is a major factor.
Improper lighting makes for poor view
ing on the tube's screen. That's why in a
lot of instances, schools who don't have
the facility to accommodate a TVbroad
cast are likely to get air time only if they
are the visiting team in a facility that has
all the accoutrements a network needs to
- properly air the contestr ? ? ?
Facilities have to have sufficient
room for the network to position their
cameras. There must also be enough
power to handle all of the electrical
demands that the network's equipment
will place on a facility. "We always have
to make sure that we have a back-up gen
erator,*' Neal says. "We could go into
some places and overload the circuits
because of all the power our equipment
needs to properly function."
BET is looking to expand its cover
age to include additional sports such as
baseball and track and field. In previous
years, they covered the SWAC tennis
tournament, Neal says.
But before additional sports becomes
__a regular part ^thej^pgnyriming, the
budget to cover expenses must be
expanded and that only happens with
increased advertising revenue.
"Sports is a very expensive proposi
tion," Neal points out. "Sports has the
. biggest portion of BETs budget. When
we started doing live broadcasts, we
spent close to $250,000 more than we did
when we were doing the delayed taping
of the games; You're talking aboul~atr"
? fare, hotel lodging and meals for the crew
?and people who are on the air. There are
also expenses for getting the broadcast
trucks from one place to the other every
In the final analysis, however, BET
is well received and is serving a useful
purpose for black college sports. The net
work pays a rights fee to the schools that
play on the air and for the coaches, TV
coverage is an excellent recruitingitool.
The national exposure that black col
lege sports receives via BET is the kind
that can't be measured by dollar signs.
-Craig T. Greenlee
January 1 989 - ?aae