BlackFacts Details

Robert L. Johnson

Best Known As:

Founder of Black Entertainment Television

Robert L. Johnson is the founder, chairman and CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET). He is also the majority owner of the the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association. Johnson grew up in Illinois and earned a graduate degree in international affairs from Princeton University. In the early 1970s Johnson found himself in Washington, D.C. during the early expansion of cable television. After a few years as a lobbyist for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Johnson borrowed money to start his own cable brand, BET. Launched in 1980, it was profitable within five years. In the early "90s BET became the first African-American-controlled company to be traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1998 Johnson bought it back and then sold it to Viacom, pocketing a reported $1.5 billion himself and retaining his position as chairman and CEO. Since then Johnson has continued to expand and diversify the BET brand, and in 2003 he became the owner of a new National Basketball Association franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats.

Extra Credit

NBA legend Michael Jordan joined Johnson as a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006.

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