Viacom acquires BET''s internet and cable TV

Viacom, the US media group, moved ahead in its plans to tighten its grip on US music television services by acquiring the closely-held Black Entertainment Television's cable TV and internet assets, for an estimated $3 billion in stock and debt.

BET, which serves the African-American market, reaches more than 60 million households with a mix of mainly music videos and comedy and also operates channels and a website dedicated to jazz in the US and overseas.

Viacom hopes that, besides immediately adding to its cash flows, these assets will complement its MTV and VH1 channels, its small UPN broadcast network which also targets black audiences, and its Infinity Broadcasting radio division and associated internet operations.

Viacom also believes that by being a part of the group, where it could be given broader distribution and its programming improved, BET's earnings could rise by more than 20 per cent a year.

BET was founded in 1980 by Robert L Johnson, who would be asked to continue running the business.