Sean “Diddy” Combs on Wednesday reinforced recent media reports that he is quitting BET Networks, which is in the early stages of being acquired by parent company Paramount Global.
Combs would join other interested parties in a stock sale of Paramount assets (including BET’s linear networks, BET+, BET Studios and VH1) and join fellow moguls Tyler Perry and Byron Allen, both of whom have also thrown their hats 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 isn’t about me, it’s about WE!!!!,” Combs wrote today on Instagram, a post accompanied by a clip from an Earn Your Leisure podcast that discussed the topic.
“I’m building a team of leaders in the culture to pursue ownership in @BET together!” Combs wrote. “We need to unite our power and resources to create real change! #THETIME IS NOW
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 for $3 billion.
Earlier this month, Paramount Global revealed it is considering a majority stake sale. Perry, already a partner in BET+, has spoken to Paramount about the larger ownership position, as has Allen, reportedly. Diddy’s interest surfaced earlier this month, but not the full rationale he gave today.
The valuation of BET Media Group still comes into focus during 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 continuing plans to offload publishing unit Simon & Schuster after an announced sale to Penguin Random House was blocked by regulators.
The sale of assets will help Paramount continue to fund its streaming ambitions and help reduce 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 BIG, 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 10 years ago as a bid for a cable television presence for Black-owned programming. His co-founder was Andy Schuon, a senior programming executive at MTV and VH1 in the 1990s. It has not quite fulfilled its original ambitions, but remains in operation.
The actor, producer and entrepreneur also founded the fashion brand Sean John and is behind premium spirits such as Cîroc vodka among other businesses.
Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.