Viacom to Acquire BET Holdings

Posted on November 3, 2000

Viacom Inc. and privately held BET Holdings II, Inc. have jointly announced that Viacom has agreed to acquire BET for a total of $3 billion, consisting of Viacom Class B Common Stock and the assumption of debt. Robert L. Johnson, Chairman and majority owner of BET Holdings, and founder of Black Entertainment Television, will remain Chairman and CEO, reporting to Viacom President and Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin. Debra Lee, BET President and Chief Operating Officer, also will continue in that role following the completion of the transaction, which is expected to occur early next year.

The transaction includes: Black Entertainment Television, which reaches 62.4 million households in the U.S.; BET on Jazz: The Cable Jazz Channel, a 24-hour network devoted to jazz music and jazz enthusiasts; BET International, a hybrid of BET and BET on Jazz programming reaching 14 countries around the world; and BET Books, a publisher of African American-themed romance novels under the label of Arabesque Books. Also part of the transaction is BET Holdings' interest in, an online portal targeted tp African Americans, ages 18-49; BET's programming interest in two XM Radio Satellite program channels (Urban AC and Jazz); and BET Pictures II, a producer of movies and documentaries that air on BET networks. BET will remain headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the United Kingdom.

``The addition of Black Entertainment Television and the other leading BET cable networks and online operations, along with the extraordinary managerial talent of Bob Johnson and his team, is a significant milestone for Viacom,'' said Sumner M. Redstone, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom. ``This transaction will significantly enhance our roster of leading brands, and make our already great management team even better. I am pleased that my long relationships with Bob Johnson and John Malone, close friends of mine and pioneers in our industry, are culminating in this very positive and important transaction.''

``Viacom is the perfect home for BET, a healthy, profitable business and the dominant media brand serving the African-American consumer,'' said Robert Johnson. ``Combining the assets of BET with the global resources and brands of Viacom will create a platform that is even stronger and better positioned to deliver the wants and needs of BET's core audience. We will be able to continue to push programming to new heights, expand our distribution globally and leverage the marketing resources of the best advertising-driven media company in the world.''