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Critics who suggest that Oprah Winfrey‘s new OWN network could use a little more racial diversity found a gentle supporter in Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.

Johnson, who counts herself as Winfrey admirer, said Thursday on NPR’s “Tell Me More”:

“The only advice that I say, let’s open up your circle a little bit more. You know, we love the Dr. Phils. We love the Suze Ormans. Let’s open up. There are other people. And there’s also African-American experts out there that I think she should start bringing on her show that can reach even a wider audience.”

Host Michel Martin said, “And it’s true that there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of ethnic diversity in her programming at this point, which is puzzling to some people.”

“No. Yes,” replied Johnson. “And I think she really should do that and not be afraid to do it. There’s really a lot of great experts out there that really know the businesses at hand. And I’d like to see her open up her circle to do that.”

Meanwhile, “In a rare Television Critics Association winter tour appearance Thursday, Winfrey told a packed ballroom of TV writers that Saturday’s launch of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network — a joint venture between Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. and Discovery Communications — was ‘revelatory’ for her,” R. Thomas Umstead wrote for Multichannel News.

” ‘We couldn’t ask for more — we built it and they came,’ Winfrey told Multichannel News Thursday night during an OWN dinner party. ‘My dream is that they continue to come. It’s a long process — it’s not about this weekend it’s about sustainability long term, but I’m pleased with the start.’

“While OWN CEO Christina Norman said the network drew some 13 million viewers during its weekend debut, Winfrey said she’s not concerned about ratings. Instead she’s focused on providing viewers quality and uplifting programming.

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Source: The Root | Richard Prince

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