BET has officially announced 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.”

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.”

It has been a year of dramatic changes at BET. The network, like many in Viacom’s cable portfolio, is honing its efforts to stay afloat in the ever-evolving TV landscape. Summer brought news that the channel, long based in Washington, D.C., would shift out of its old headquarters to focus on operations in New York and Los Angeles. There also have been multiple executive changes, as well as the incredibly promising news that entertainment titan Tyler Perry will be leaving his deal at OWN to supply nearly 100 hours of annual programming to the African American-focused cable network in 2019.



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