What a way to end the year…
Last year, Viacom appointed Robert Bakish as its President and CEO. Since taking the office, Viacom and all of the networks under its umbrella have experienced significant shakes up. The biggest shift that affects the Hip-Hop community is this recent change in leadership at BET. Longtime BET president Debra L. Lee is ceding day-to-day duties to Scott M. Mills (former EVP and chief administrative officer at Viacom).
There are few networks that understand programming for Black people as BET Networks. The first to occupy space in this particular entertainment/cultural arena, Lee has had an impressive career spanning over 30 years. Lee started as BET’s general counsel and after 20 year rose to the position of President and CEO in 1996. Lee will remain as the Chairman and CEO and shift her focus from day-to-day duties to developing key relationships with external stakeholders. She will also serve as an advisor to Mills as he acclimates to his new responsibilities. Previously, Mills served under Lee in the Chief Operating Officer position.
“In her two decades at the helm of BET Networks, Debi has built BET into a truly global entertainment powerhouse, bringing this dominant African American brand to more than 60 countries and 125 million households,” said Bakish, CEO and president of Viacom. “Her vision and leadership, unmatched intuition for what audiences want, and ability to attract and foster top talent – both behind and in front of the camera – have been pivotal to this success. We’re grateful that we will continue to benefit from Debi’s experience and insights.”
Over the summer, BET shut down their long-based in Washington, DC offices targeting their focus on their operations in New York and Los Angeles. Despite changes, Lee is confident that there are great days ahead for the network.
“Today, BET is thriving as the No. 1 network for African American audiences, and we continue to see strong growth in ratings, share and social engagement,” said Lee. “I have spent more than 20 years leading this incredible enterprise and I am so proud of the BET team and all that we have accomplished. As I look to the future, I believe it is the right time to take a step back from day-to-day responsibilities at BET. I look forward to working closely with Scott, Michael, our many talented people – and very importantly, BET’s communities and external stakeholders.”