Mills will take over the day-to-day responsibilities at BET, with Lee focusing on relationships with external stakeholders and communities. Michael Armstrong will continue in his position as general manager and will report to Mills.
“In her two decades at the helm of BET Networks, Debi has built BET into a truly global entertainment powerhouse, bringing this dominant African American brand to more than 60 countries and 125 million households,” said Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom. “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. We’re grateful that we will continue to benefit from Debi’s experience and insights. 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.”
Mills is currently executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Viacom, where he oversees human resources, real estate, facilities, and security. Previously, he served as president and chief operating officer for BET Networks, leading its business functions, as well as launching what is now BET Her and mobile and digital video distribution operations.
“Today, BET is thriving as the #1 network for African American audiences, and we continue to see strong growth in ratings, share and social engagement,” Lee said. “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.”
This is the latest in a string of executive shakeups at BET. After Bakish took the reins at Viacom in December, he has made key changes at multiple cable networks owned by the company, including BET, VH1, and Comedy Central. In addition, Viacom’s Spike TV is preparing to rebrand as the Paramount Network in January.