In Latest BET Shake-Up, Debra Lee Out as President, Stays on as Chair and CEO

Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET

It’s been a year of change at BET—but the network seems to have saved the biggest shake-up for last.

Debra L. Lee, BET’s president for more than 20 years, is handing over the reins as president to Scott M. Mills, who previously served as Viacom’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lee will continue to serve as BET’s chairman and CEO and will focus on the network’s relationships with “key external stakeholders.” She’ll also serve as an adviser to the incoming president.


Announcing her departure, Bob Bakish, CEO and president of Viacom, said that Lee had “built BET into a truly global entertainment powerhouse, bringing this dominant African-American brand to more than 60 countries and 125 million households.”

Bakish said that Lee’s vision and leadership had been pivotal to BET’s success, adding that the company would “continue to benefit from Debi’s experience and insights.”

The announcement caps off a wild year for BET. Earlier in 2017, the network parted ways with its longtime programming president, Stephen Hill (the man behind the New Edition biopic), and its head of original programming, Zola Mashiriki. Hill was fired abruptly, while Mashiriki said that she received the news of her termination while she was on medical leave fighting breast cancer.


This summer, the network announced that it would leave its Washington, D.C., headquarters and focus on its New York and Los Angeles operations. BET also inked a major deal with entertainment mogul Tyler Perry, who will start providing 100 hours of annual programming to BET in 2019.

Read more at the Hollywood Reporter.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Anne Branigin

Staff writer, The Root. Sometimes I blog slow, sometimes I blog quick. Do you have this in coconut?