Debra Lee steps down from BET after 32 years at the network

We're sad to see the network's chairman and CEO go.

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Debra Lee announced that she is stepping down from her position as Chairman & CEO of BET Networks on Thursday.

The news isn’t so surprising to industry insiders who saw the writing on the wall when Bob Bakish was named CEO of Viacom in 2017.

Debra Lee has been a beloved leader at BET for years and she spent 32 years at the network, overseeing major achievements including the launch of Being Mary Jane, The Real Husbands of Hollywood and The New Edition Story. 

She issued the following statement announcing her resignation:

“In 1986 I joined BET Networks to be its very first in-house counsel. As a young corporate attorney I saw my role as the protector of the BET brand and its employees and today, more than 32 years later, I still see myself as the protector and defender of a brand that I have helped to grow as a top destination for audiences across the globe. I have called BET Networks home for over three decades and this team is part of my extended family.”
“In addition to the legacy I have built for BET Networks in the media landscape, I am also extremely proud of the legacy of values that I helped to instill at the network during my tenure. My belief that we can do well and do good has been a guiding principle and one that I hope you will continue after my departure. Together, we have built a world-class brand that connects with fans through the power of storytelling and we have attracted and nurtured top talent across the globe.

I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude to our parent company, Viacom, for their continued belief in the power of the BET brand and their unwavering support of my long and fulfilling career here. I would especially like to thank Bob Bakish for supporting me as I start the next chapter in this exciting journey.

I could not be prouder of the enormous amount of talent and creativity at BET Networks today and I will always be BET’s number one fan, rooting for each and every one of you as you continue to break barriers and share your authenticity with the world. I leave with pride, gratitude, and joy for a life-changing professional and personal journey. Continue to do it “for the culture” and much success to you all. You deserve it.”