BET Networks has named Viacom executive Scott M. Mills as president, with Debra Lee stepping back while continuing in her chairman and CEO role, according to Deadline.
Mills will oversee overall strategy and day-to-day operations of BET Networks including oversight of the brand’s programming, ad sales and digital teams. Lee will advise Mills in his new position beginning January 1st.
Lee has been with BET since 1986 when she was named VP and general counsel. She was promoted to President and COO in 1996, and became CEO of BET Networks in June of 2005.
“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,” Lee said in a statement. “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.”
Mills previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer for BET Networks, and helped launched what is now BET Her and BET’s mobile and digital video distribution operations. More recently he served as Chief Administrative Officer at Viacom, overseeing Human Resources, Real Estate and Facilities and Security.
The television exec humbly accepted his role while thanking Lee and others for their work and influence.
“BET has consistently produced exciting, thought-provoking content, shaping culture and conversation with African Americans and young audiences around the world,” he said today. “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.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.