The Billion Dollar BET: Robert Johnson and the Inside Story of Black Entertainment Television

Overview

The American dream is still alive, and if you don't believe it just take a close look at Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and a man who has traveled the classic American journey from humble origins to unimaginable wealth. Born to a poor family in Mississippi, Johnson, the son of factory workers and the only one among his ten siblings to attend college, parlayed a $15,000 loan in 1979 into Black Entertainment Television, one of the cable ...

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Overview

The American dream is still alive, and if you don't believe it just take a close look at Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and a man who has traveled the classic American journey from humble origins to unimaginable wealth. Born to a poor family in Mississippi, Johnson, the son of factory workers and the only one among his ten siblings to attend college, parlayed a $15,000 loan in 1979 into Black Entertainment Television, one of the cable industry's richest franchises.

Written by award-winning journalist Brett Pulley, The Billion Dollar BET is the first-ever in-depth look at one of the most enigmatic and important entrepreneurs of our time. This revealing book offers a colorful portrait of a brilliant and relentlessly focused businessman, whose life is a window into race, culture, and capitalism. From Johnson's rural Mississippi roots and early years in blue-collar Illinois, to his graduate life at Princeton University and career as a cable industry lobbyist on Capitol Hill, The Billion Dollar BET traces his inspired climb to the top and his often controversial tenure at the helm of one of the most influential media outlets in the country. You'll discover how Johnson won the support of media titans John Malone and Sumner Redstone, and watch as BET begins to take on far greater social significance than even Johnson could ever have imagined. You'll also learn how Johnson handled pivotal events in the company's history, such as the public attacks on BET's program content and the decision to sell the firm to media giant Viacom.

Much more than a corporate analysis of profits and losses, The Billion Dollar BET is a story about savvy, vision, timing, determination, failure, scandal, love, and sex┬ľall the things that occur behind the scenes as a company and its leader grow up. It reveals an ambition and fiery determination that burned so hot that friendships were shattered, family relationships destroyed, and hearts broken.

Filled with revealing anecdotes and never-reported details of Johnson's life and business acumen, The Billion Dollar BET is a classic American business tale. This is the story of the greatest $15,000 bet ever made. It is the story of Robert Louis Johnson and the billion-dollar empire that he built.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471423638
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/1/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 982,381
  • Product dimensions: 0.63 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2006

    Even-Handed Saga about America's Leading Black Entrepreneur

    The fascinating rags-to-riches story of Robert L. Johnson, the U.S.¿s first black billionaire, has all the makings of a great novel: personality, determination, opportunity, scandal, backstabbing and tremendous success. Against all odds, this child of a poor, black rural family became a media pioneer and a very wealthy man. A visionary, he started Black Entertainment Television (BET) with $15,000, four employees, and incredible energy and ambition. Judging by the amount of money he made, his success is clear, although biographer Brett Pulley says his track record in social responsibility is muddier. We recommend Pulley¿s remarkably even-handed, in-depth portrayal of this enigmatic, controversial, often hard-hearted mogul.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2004

    Finally, The Veil Is Parted

    At last we find out what makes billionaire enigma Bob Johnson tick! (Basically the same thing that motivates most other business heavyweights. Mad Bling!) Mr. Pulley's book finally reveals how Mr. Johnson copes with the cacophony of disapproving black sentiment that seems to have swirled around BET since it burst onto the scene. He simply checks his bank account! Billion Dollar BET is a fast-paced, didactic read, digressing only to the degree necessary in order to embellish key players or pivotal situations in the Johnson saga. Mr. Pulley--through Bob Johnson's daring progression from dirt dauber to NBA owner--gives us an education in high-stakes business and negotiations. He even makes mega-million dollar stock wrangling and financial jargon understandable to the lay reader. The best parts of the read, of course, are the juicy personal dramas--infidelity, jealousy, betrayal, law suits, the works--that unfold off the set and within the Johnson family clan. This book crosses so many lines and will appeal to disciples of many different literature genres.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2004

    New kind of business man

    Robert Johnson had the chance to do something great with BET.....After reading his book I understand his thinking, like a businessman making tough business decisions. He's a new kind of business leader.I wish things would have been different, but he could be a model for anyone looking for a example on finding a niche and filling the demand.I admire Robert Johnson greatly!

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