BET Leaving D.C., Moving Headquarters to NYC

Debra Lee
Debra Lee (Courtesy of Fortune Live Media via Wikimedia Commons)

BET is shuttering its doors in the nation’s capital and moving its headquarters to New York City, the company confirmed Wednesday.

BET Networks Chairman and CEO Debra Lee announced the plan via memo to staffers in D.C., where the network got its start in 1980 before it was acquired by Viacom in 2000.

“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,” BET said in a statement. “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 office will close July 7, though it is unclear whether the staff would be offered the opportunity to transfer to NYC or if layoffs were imminent. According to a source, the D.C. team has about 20 salaried employees and 40 freelancers.

Lee, who lives in D.C., has reportedly put her home on the market and moved to Los Angeles.

The commercial real estate site Bisnow recently reported that BET was close to a deal last month to sell its Brentwood property, and that the 7.8-acre parcel in D.C. had been on the market since mid-2016.