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*On this date in 2000, Viacom Inc. announced their company had agreed to acquire Black Entertainment Television (BET). The cost is 3 billion dollars, 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, the first and largest national cable network targeted to Blacks, would remain Chairman and CEO, reporting to Viacom President and Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin. Debra Lee, BET President and Chief Operating Officer, also would continue in that role following the completion of the transaction, which is expected to occur in early 2001.
BET Holdings II, Inc. was the first Black-owned and operated media and Entertainment Company to provide quality television programming, entertainment products, publishing, and Internet services designed to appeal to Black interests. BET Holdings, which owns and operates four networks (Black Entertainment Television, BET on Jazz: The Jazz Channel, BET Action Pay-Per-View, and BET International), is an investor in four magazines with Vanguard Media (Heart & Soul, IMPACT, Honey, and Savoy); and owns Arabesque Books, the leading Black line of romance novels.
The company has also established a new film division, BET Pictures II, to develop African American made-for-television movies and theatrical releases. Other BET Holdings ventures include BET.com, an interactive website based upon a joint venture with Liberty Digital, News Corporation, USA Networks, and Microsoft; BET Soundstage Restaurant, an entertainment-themed restaurant in Largo, Maryland; BET Soundstage Club, a dance club on Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando; BET On Jazz Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant in Washington; Tres Jazz, a restaurant located inside Bally's Paris Resort and Casino in Las Vegas; and BET Movies/STARZ!, a premium movie channel joint venture with Starz Encore Group LLC.
Transaction Included Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Other Cable Networks, BET Books, and BET.com.