BET Weighs Stake in CBA

BET Holdings Inc. has inquired about purchasing a financial stake in the minor-league Continental Basketball Association.

BET chairman Robert Johnson met recently with the National Basketball Association's players' union, the NBA Players Association, to explore opportunities to purchase the nine-team league, according to reports.

Basketball hall-of-famer Isiah Thomas currently owns the CBA, but the union has been negotiating with Thomas to purchase the entity, which is the NBA's official developmental league.

Thomas, who was recently named head coach of the NBA's Indiana Pacers, must sell the league to avoid a conflict of interest.

Sources said Johnson might look to partner with the players association to purchase the league, and then televise its games on BET. If the union is unable to reach an accord with Thomas, sources said, Johnson may be interested in purchasing the league outright.

BET vice president of corporate communications Michael Llewellen would not comment on any potential BET-CBA deal, but said that BET is interested in adding some league games to its programming lineup.

A spokesman from the CBA said that any BET purchase is "speculation," and added that the league has signed a letter of intent with the players' union.

Representatives from the union could not be reached.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.