BET CEO Debra Lee has announced that longtime President of Programming Stephen Hill will be stepping down from his position in a memo shared with members of the media on Wednesday. Hill had been with the company for 18 years and its parent company, Viacom, since 1995.
Connie Orlando, senior VP for specials, music programming and news, will fill in as interim president for the time being, according to Billboard. It’s being speculated that Hill’s departure is part of Viacom’s attempt to rebrand itself and its properties.
“Stephen has earned a reputation as one of the leading creative minds in television and music. His contributions to the team have been invaluable as we worked together to successfully reinvigorate our brand,” Lee wrote.
“Most importantly, Stephen has been a trusted colleague and friend to many of us. We are fortunate to have enjoyed his service, creativity and laughter for so many years. I can’t imagine this ride without his energy, passion and love of BET,” she added. “Thank you Stephen for every awesome and magical moment, I know this won’t be our last dance. I know your dedication to BET will still live on in everyone you’ve touched over the years.”
Hill went on to clarify what he would be doing in the immediate future in a memo:
“As for me, since I was 16, I haven’t had many workdays of not getting up, getting into it and getting involved. ‘Tis a truly foreign concept. I talk about “time”…well, all of the time ( at least twice a year on email); about its value and to consider how you use time…as a friend or a foe. Right now, I’m choosing friend. I’ma throw my arms around it like I would a long lost buddy and enjoy a bit of what it might offer. I am truly looking forward to some time to just be. There’s much in this world I haven’t experienced that I soon will.”
He then thanked Debra Lee and wished all the best to BET.
“I will miss you all. I will miss this. I will miss us. But I am so excited to see where you next take this powerful, agile, thrusting spacecraft of a brand.
Imagine it and drive well.”