After More Than 20 Years, Debra Lee Leaving Her Post As President of BET

December 15, 2017  |  

At the top of 2018, BET will have a new president of operations.

Debra Lee BET

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The network announced on Thursday that after more than 20 years of working as president of Black Entertainment Television, Debra Lee will step down and Scott M. Mills will take her place.

“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,” Lee said in a statement obtained by Black Enterprise.  “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.”

With that being said, Lee will still have important positions with the company. She will continue to serve as the chairman and CEO of the network, but her responsibility now will be to build up relationships with external stakeholders, a major shift from helping to plan the BET Awards and working on original programming and films.

Mills has been BET’s executive vice president and the chief administrative officer for Viacom since 2015, and he started with the BET in 1997 as senior vice president of business strategy and development. He will now be the president of day-to-day operations, providing oversight for the network’s programming, ad sales, digital teams and more. Lee will also act as an advisor for Mills and the company’s general manager, Michael Armstrong, will work closely with him in this new role.

“BET has consistently produced exciting, thought-provoking content, shaping culture and conversation with African Americans and young audiences around the world,” Mills said in his own statement. “I am honored to work alongside Debi, Michael, and the incredible team at BET as we accelerate the network’s evolution across film, digital, and live experiences.”

Something to look forward to under Mills for some fans is a the film and TV deal recently secured with Tyler Perry, whose original content for OWN has been a big hit. He will be creating original programming in the same way for BET.

As for Lee, she’s being lauded by the likes of Bob Bakish, the president and CEO of Viacom, for the past work she’s done to make BET a force in entertainment over the years.

“In her two decades at the helm of BET Networks, Debi has built BET into a truly global entertainment powerhouse,” he said, “bringing this dominant African American brand to more than 60 countries and 125 million households.”

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