Debra Lee Steps Down as BET CEO
BET is losing its longtime champion.
Debra Lee is stepping down from her post as CEO and chairman at the Viacom-owned cable network. Lee’s last day at the company will be Monday. The news comes after Lee ceded day-to-day oversight of the African-American-focused cable network in December, with Scott M. Mills taking over as president. She is not being replaced.
Lee, who first joined BET in 1986 as its first in-house counsel, built the network to become the top African-American brand, as the cabler is in more than 60 countries and reaches 125 million households.
“Debra’s vision and creativity have cemented BET Networks as a premier network for African-Americans and lovers of black culture,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said Thursday in a statement announcing the news. “As BET continues to move forward, we will always be grateful to Debra for her leadership and commitment to creating top-notch entertainment that both entertains and empowers. Her passion for the BET brand has resulted in countless wins and has allowed BET to stay competitive in a growing media landscape. While we will all miss Debra tremendously, we respect her decision and understand her desire to leave at the very top of the game with a legacy of significant contributions that spans decades. I have seen firsthand how the network has grown under her direction, and I know that she will bring that same innovative thinking and strategic vision to her future pursuits. Debra has groomed an amazing group of senior executives, and I am confident that BET Networks will continue to flourish under their leadership.”