Black Entertainment Television has been owned by media conglomerate Viacom since 2001, and now several Black business people are vying for ownership of the company started by Bob Johnson back in 1980. Billionaire actor-filmmaker Tyler Perry has expressed interest, but so has comedian-turned-media mogul Byron Allen.
Paramount Global (formerly known as Viacom) is considering selling a majority stake in BET. Perry is already an investor in the company’s BET+ streaming service.
BET was founded by businessman Johnson, who sold it to Viacom in 2001 for about $3 billion. While it was a landmark deal, it also meant that BET would no longer be Black owned. Before that BET had become a major player in the broadcast industry and in 1991, the network became the first Black-controlled television company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Byron, a former actor and stand-up comedian, has gone on to build his own media empire. His Allen Media Group LLC controls dozens of TV stations and other assets, including the Weather Channel cable network. Byron, who has an estimated net worth of $800 million, counts 36 broadcast TV stations, 10 networks, TheGrio news platform, and the Weather Channel as part of his media business. Now, he wants to add BET to his lineup.
“This is a phenomenal asset; they’re running a process, we’re part of it,” Allen said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Romaine Bostick on the sidelines of the recent Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills. “This is something that used to be Black-owned, and now this is the time for it to go back into Black ownership, which is very important.”
Black Americans Have the Highest Mortality Rates But Lowest Levels of Life Insurance
Are you prioritizing your cable entertainment bill over protecting and investing in your family?
Smart Policies are as low as $30 a month, No Medical Exam Required
Click Here to Get Smart on Protecting Your Family and Loves Ones, No Matter What Happens
“BET is a great American brand, and if it becomes available, we’re very interested, and we will pursue it vigorously,” he told TheGrio last month.
On a previous occasion, Allen addressed his competition for the ownership of BET.
“I love Tyler,” he said, adding that the media is trying “to put us against each other. If he gets it, it’s great. If I get it, it’s great.”
Perry, who inked a TV and film deal with BET back in 2019 and has developed shows like “All the Queen’s Men,” “Sistas,” and “Oval” for the network, has confirmed that he’s interested in buying BET.
“If it’s possible, I’m gonna take as much of it as I can,” Perry said.
Sean “Diddy” Combs is also a contender, Page Six reported.
Comedian and media mogul Byron Allen poses for photo Sept. 5, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)