Viacom, the parent company of MTV and Paramount Comedy, is launching US channel Black Entertainment TV (BET) in the UK later this month.
The free-to-air channel is aimed at young black and ethnic minority viewers, and will be available on the digital satellite platform andBT Vision, as a video-on-demand channel.
The launch will be backed by a campaign, starring BET icons including singer Alicia Keys and actor Jamie Foxx.
The network is working with London-based communications consultancy Glen Yearwood Group on launch plans and has appointed International Poster Management (IPM) to handle its outdoor media planning and buying account, following a pitch.
It is understood that no decision has been made on other agency arrangements, although consultant Glen Yearwood says marketing will initially concentrate on outdoor and ambient media.
Viacom-owned sales house Viacom Brand Solutions (VBS) will handle advertising sales for the channel.
BET was first launched in the US in 1980 and has been extended to Canada and the Caribbean. It airs the most popular reality TV show in the US, College Hill.
Yearwood says content will initially borrow heavily from the US network, but will become more regionalised over time.
BET Networks chief executive Debra Lee says the launch is part of its commitment to grow the brand internationally.
The brand has existed in the UK as a sponsor since 2006, linking with the Notting Hill Carnival and BET Hip Hop Awards, which allowed fans to vote through MTV Base and BBC 1Xtra websites.