Black Entertainment Television Falls to Viacom

06 November 2000

US music cable TV and internet service BET Holdings has agreed to be bought by by Paris-headquartered media conglomerate Viacom in a deal said to be worth around $3 billion in stock and debt.

BET reaches over 60m households in the US and overseas with a mix of music videos and comedy. It also runs channels dedicated to jazz plus a website. All of which sit nicely alongside Viacom's existing portfolio which includes MTV and VH1 channels, the small UPN broadcast network which also attracts black audiences; and Infinity Broadcasting, its radio division and associated internet operations.

Said Viacom media group chairman Sumner Redstone: "The advertising community discriminates against African-American entertainment and we think we can improve that situation." The acquisition of BET would add immediately to Viacom's cash flow, he said.

BET founder Robert L Johnson and his management team will continue to run the business.

News source: Financial Times