Debra Lee Says She ‘Still Sees Herself As Protector Of The Brand’ As She Steps Down As CEO & Chairman of BET


Debra Lee is out at BET, and it looks like the changing of the guards is officially upon us.  Details inside…

A little more than a year after BET’s other top exec Stephen Hill announced his departure, which some say wasn’t necessarily amicable, Debra Lee is out as well.  Her last day as CEO & Chairman of BET is May 28th.

There’s been rumblings that she as on her way out over the last couple of years as BET still is finding its place within Viacom, and now it’s official.

The lawyer turned network executive has been with the company over 30 years, and she says she still sees herself as the protector and defender of the brand.

“In 1986 I joined BET Networks to be its very first Vice President & General 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 audiencesacross the globe. I have called BET Networks home for over three decades and this team is part of my extended family,“ Ms. Lee says in a statement to BET staff and executives.

“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.”

She’s going out with a bang, at least.  Plenty of ratings records with original shows giving the network a much needed boost. says:

Under her leadership, the network has enjoyed record-breaking success, including the 2014 series premiere of The Game, the most-watched sitcom premiere in cable TV history with 7.68 million viewers, and the 2017 hit mini-series The New Edition Story, which brought in 28.4 million viewers from the initial run through subsequent encores, making it the highest-rated TV biopic of all time.

Next for Deb, she reportedly is planning to do other things in media.

“….She plans to stay involved in the media industry and continue her role on corporate and non-profit boards. In addition, she also plans to continue her commitment to diversity and inclusion by advancing the rights of women and girls as well as people of color through her work with Times Up and The Recording Academy Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, to name a few.

Congrats to Debra Lee on a long and prosperous career as one of very few female television executives.