After all, Paramount Global has decided against selling the controlling ownership in the network that owns BET.

According to a person familiar with the decision who was not authorized to comment publicly, Paramount informed bidders about its decision to end the BET Media Group selling process late Wednesday night. The source claimed that after meeting with a few extremely knowledgeable financial consultants, the corporation decided that keeping a sizable investment in BET generates more value for Paramount than any of the options.

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Actor-director Tyler Perry, music magnate Sean “Diddy” Combs, and businessman Byron Allen were a few well-known suitors. Based on the two popular television series “The Oval” and “Sistas,” which were broadcast on the network, some once saw Perry as a top possibility. Additionally, he has a small equity position in the streaming service BET+.

Late on Wednesday, Paramount Global informed bidders of its decision not to sell the bulk of the BET Media Group.
The agreement would have included the cable station VH1 in addition to BET.

Robert Johnson and his then-wife Sheila Johnson founded BET at the beginning in 1980. After obtaining a $500,000 loan from veteran cable executive John Malone, Robert Johnson founded BET in the basement of his Washington, D.C., home. Eventually, he turned the company into the top TV network for Black Americans.

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Johnson extended BET by founding publishing houses and event production companies in addition to smaller digital networks targeted at jazz, gospel, and hip-hop enthusiasts. Popular programs like “Bobby Jones Gospel,” “Rap City,” “ComicView,” “Lift Every Voice,” and “Teen Summit” initially drove the network’s popularity.

The network was the first Black-controlled television firm to list on the New York Stock Exchange in the early 1990s.

Over the previous ten years, BET’s subscriber base and earnings have decreased. According to S&P Global, the number of subscribers decreased from 89.5 million in 2014—a high year for cable television—to a projected 66.3 million in 2022. According to S&P, the cable network’s annual revenues will be $188 million in 2022, down from a projected peak of $319 million in 2013.

BET+, which debuted in 2019, may have been the acquisition’s crowning achievement by BET Media Group. According to BET, there are more than 3 million users of the streaming service.

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After Johnson and his then-wife, Sheila, sold BET to Viacom in 2000 for $3 billion, becoming the country’s first Black billionaires, BET increased the quality of its programming. He held the position of CEO till 2006.

A.J. Calloway, Marie “Free” Wright, Terrence J, and Rocsi Diaz were given opportunities to become well-known stars on “106 & Park,” which rose to prominence on BET. The weekday program prospered with a video countdown, interviews, and performances. It debuted in 2000 and ran for more than ten years. The BET Awards were launched by the network a year later to recognize the contributions that people of color have made in the fields of entertainment and sports.

BET served as a forum for showcasing admirable depictions of Black people for many years. But around the middle of the 2000s, a number of well-known people, including Chuck D of Public Enemy and filmmaker Spike Lee, sharply criticized the network’s programming for portraying African Americans negatively.

The now-defunct “BET: Uncut,” a late-night mature program with a lot of sexual content, was targeted by many.

OutKast’s Big Boi expressed his surprise at some of the “Uncut” content, calling it “distasteful” and “soft porn.” Along with the then-co-founder Sheila Johnson, several political personalities and activists expressed their unhappiness. Sheila Johnson claimed in a 2010 interview that she had lost all respect for the network and advised no one, not even her own children, to watch.

In 2006, “Uncut” was canceled.

In response to the criticism, BET changed its strategy. The network looked into the viewing preferences of its audience and developed a roster of more family-friendly programs, including “Reed Between the Lines” and “Let’s Stay Together.” It also resurrected “The Game,” which broke ratings records for the network, after fans petitioned for its revival after the CW cancelled it.

“Sistas,” “All the Queen’s Men,” “First Wives Club,” and “Tyler Perry’s The Oval” are some of its top-rated current programs. The network also airs “American Soul,” “Tales,” and “Boomerang,” among other programs.

The NAACP Image Awards, BET Hip-Hop Awards, and BET Awards are also shown on the network.


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