Sean “Diddy” Combs Says “It’s Time For BET To Be Black-Owned Again” As Paramount Explores Stake Sale
Sean “Diddy” Combs on Wednesday bolstered recent media reports that he is kicking the tires of BET Networks, which is in the early stages of being shopped by parent Paramount Global.
Combs would join other interested parties in a stake sale of Paramount assets (including BET’s linear networks, BET+, BET Studios and VH1) joining fellow moguls Tyler Perry and Byron Allen, who both have also thrown their hat in the ring.
“It’s time for @BET to be Black-owned again so we have the power to tell our own stories, control our own narrative! This is not about me it’s about WE!!!!,” Combs wrote today on Instagram, a post accompanied by a clip from an Earn Your Leisure podcast discussing the subject.
“I’m building a team of leaders in the culture to pursue ownership in @BET together!,” Combs wrote. “We have to unify our power and resources to create real change! #THETIMEISNOW
BET, or Black Entertainment Television, was founded by Robert Johnson in 1980, the first cable channel to cater to Black audiences. It was acquired by Viacom in 2001 in a deal worth $3 billion.
Earlier this month, news emerged that Paramount Global is considering a sale of a majority stake. Perry, already a partner in BET+, has spoken with Paramount about the larger ownership position, as reportedly has Allen. Diddy’s interest surfaced earlier this month, but not the full rationale he provided today.
The valuation of BET Media Group is still coming into focus during the discussions, but its revenue last year was about $1.5 billion. Although Paramount recently rejected an unsolicited offer for Showtime in the range of $3 billion, it is also proceeding with plans to unload publishing unit Simon & Schuster following an announced sale to Penguin Random House that was blocked by regulators.
The asset sales will help Paramount continue to fund its growing streaming operation and help contain costs, CEO Bob Bakish has said.
Combs, the music mogul and entrepreneur, received the BET Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award just last year. The Grammy-winning rapper founded Bad Boy Records which would spawn Notorious B.I.G., Lil Kim and Junior Mafia among others, and he also propelled the careers of the likes of Usher and Mary J. Blige.
He also launched cable channel Revolt TV a decade ago as a bid for cable TV presence for Black-owned programming. His co-founder was Andy Schuon, a senior programming exec at MTV and VH1 in the 1990s. It hasn’t quite fulfilled its initial ambitions but remains in business.
The actor, producer and entrepreneur also founded the fashion label Sean John and is behind premium spirits like Cîroc vodka among other businesses.
Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.