NEW YORK — BET and TV One, the television networks aimed primarily at black audiences, haven't paid much attention to presidential inaugurations before. This time will be different.
Both are planning extensive coverage for Jan. 20, when Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation's 44th president.
Although it will be followed as a news event, network executives said the installation of the first black president will be as much a celebration as a story.
"This is an opportunity to be the best we can be," said Stephen Hill, BET's programming chief. "We see this as an opportunity to inform and inspire our audience, which is what we always try to do."
BET marked President Bush's last inauguration with a news brief, to say, "Oh, it happened. What a shame," he said.
This time, BET will cover the swearing-in and parade from four locations, including ground and rooftop sites on Pennsylvania Avenue. Anchoring the coverage will be Hill Harper of CBS' "CSI: NY," former CBS "The Early Show" host Rene Syler, and Jeff Johnson, who hosts a weekly BET news program.
TV One plans to follow the inauguration for 21 hours, from 3 a.m. on Jan. 20 to midnight.
Radio talk-show host Joe Madison and Art Fennell of CN8, the Comcast Network, will be the hosts. It's already a big week for TV One: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday the weekend before marks the fifth anniversary of the network's launch.
BET is planning a prime-time entertainment special taped earlier, "Yes We Will: The BET Inaugural Celebration," and will also sponsor an inaugural ball, which will be featured in live cut-ins.
TV One plans to report from the scenes of Obama's inaugural balls starting at 7 p.m.