BET confirmed today that it it shuttering its Washington DC headquarters, the city where the network got its start in 1980 before it was acquired by Viacom in 2000. BET confirmed the news after Deadline obtained a copy of a memo to the DC staff from BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee in which she announced the plan.
The office will close July 7, with operations to move to New York. It was unclear whether the staff was offered the opportunity to transfer to NYC or whether there will be layoffs. According to a source the DC team has about 20 salaried employees and 40 freelancers.
“The closing of BET Network’s Washington D.C. office has been an ongoing transition in line with our overall strategy to make New York BET’s new headquarters,” a BET spokesperson said this evening. “We are very proud that Washington D.C. was the birthplace of BET Networks, the first network and the premier destination for African American audiences for the past 37 years.”
The network currently shoots its gospel music series Joyful Noise in DC; it is unclear whether that series will also move. The source also said Lee, who lives in Washington, DC, has put her home on market and moved to Los Angeles.
The commercial real estate site Bisnow reported last month that BET was close to a deal last month to sell its Brentwood property in northern DC, and that the 7.8-acre parcel had been on the market since mid-2016.