In a significant leadership transition move, BET Networks Chairman and CEO Debra Lee will hand off oversight of the African-American-targeted company to newly named BET Networks President Scott Mills.
Mills, who is currently executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Viacom, will assume overall strategy and day-to-day operations of BET Networks beginning Jan. 1, including oversight of the brand’s programming, ad sales and digital teams, said network officials.
Lee, who will remain chairman and CEO of the network, will serve as an advisor to Mills and focus on BET’s relationships with key external stakeholders and committees.
“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. “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. “
Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement that Lee has built BET into a global entertainment powerhouse. “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,” he said. “We’re grateful that we will continue to benefit from Debi’s experience and insights.”
BET general manager Michael Armstrong will remain in his position where he will oversee multiplatform scheduling, marketing, corporate communications and operations, reporting to Mills.
Mills, who earlier in his career was president and COO for BET Networks, said in a statement: “BET has consistently produced exciting, thought-provoking content, shaping culture and conversation with African Americans and young audiences around the world. 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.”
Bakish said of Mills: “Scott is a proven leader who has made exceptional contributions to Viacom and BET for more than 20 years. His strong relationships across the industry – which were instrumental in securing our recent cross-house deal with Tyler Perry – as well as his track record of success initiating innovative creative ventures, including BET Experience, make him the right person for this role, as we continue to extend this brand across platforms and markets around the world.”