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BET Acquires ‘Soul Train’ Franchise From InterMedia Partners, Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa

BET Networks has acquired the “Soul Train” franchise from InterMedia Partners and Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies.

The deal includes more than 1,000 vintage episodes from the music and dance show that aired from 1971 through 2006. BET has aired the Soul Train Awards since 2009 and has aired older episodes of the show on BET and Centric in the past.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. “Soul Train” creator and host Don Cornelius was a pioneering African-American media entrepreneur who controlled all aspects of the franchise and was its on-air face until 1993. He sold Don Cornelius Productions in 2008 and died four years later.

“BET Networks is honored to have acquired a brand with such a rich history and unique content that is forever relevant to all segments of our audience,” commented Richard Gay, exec VP of strategy and operations for BET Networks. “With a Broadway play and a concert tour as examples of opportunities in the works, we look forward to finding engaging and smart ways to grow the brand while preserving its heritage and legacy in music, dance and fashion.”

“Soul Train” was a landmark TV series in serving up black music and culture in a mainstream Saturday morning music showcase that at its peak was popular with a broad audience. Cultural critic Nelson George wrote a book about the show’s influence in 2014, “The Hippest Trip in America.”

“You had this entire other world of black style and black music being beamed into houses every Saturday,” George told Rolling Stone in 2014. “For a lot of people, this was the first exposure to a large spectrum of black life.”

(Pictured: Singer Jill Scott at the 2015 Soul Train Awards)

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