Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson entered the digital streaming world last year with Urban Movie Channel, which distributes films, television shows, and documentaries targeted toward African American audiences. With options like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video also available, some are wondering if this niche service has a place in the market. Johnson, however, doesn’t think those other services offer enough for black audiences—and says Urban Movie Channel naysayers are just too old-fashioned.
“I would say to those critics that they are living in the past,” he told TheWrap. “Their minds are in the past that you’re going to allow one channel or one site, Netflix, to say that they’re going to be all things to all people. People who say something like that have their head in the sand and probably should stay there.”
Diversity in film and television has been at the center of several debates this year. In March, Deadline editor Neellie Andreeva received major backlash for suggesting that diversity in TV casting might be “too much of a good thing.” Andreeva’s co-editor Mike Fleming Jr. apologized for her remarks, saying “the only appropriate way to view racial diversity in casting is to see it as a wonderful thing, and to hope that Hollywood continues to make room for people of color.” This year’s Oscars were also heavily critiqued for a lack of diversity among nominees in all of the major categories.