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Things at BET may never be the same…

Stephen Hill, the President of Programming for BET Networks, has surprisingly decided to leave his post. The man responsible for bringing some of your favorite shows to life on the network, and more accurately the brain behind the BET Awards, announced on Wednesday that he was exiting at the end of the week. In a lengthy memo to the BET staff Hill claimed that his departure will give him time to just “be”.

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.

And then, I’ll re-approach the side of the action, sway to and fro while catching the rhythm and jump back into the fast-paced double-dutch of life. However, these same feet that will one day return to churning in time with the ropes will now, for a few moments, have their individual digits sifting sand…not unlike another former President. Check the IG in a little while. Previously unimaginable. About to be wonderfully real.

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.

Hill’s departure essay says a lot, but what it doesn’t say is what is really happening over at BET and why his exit was more of a push than a leisurely stroll. As you may or may not know, BET is under the Viacom umbrella along with MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and others. While, Viacom’s CEO Bob Bakish called BET one of the “core brands,” it’s also a brand he sought to reign in and control a bit more. That move put Stephen in the hot seat and increased the pressure for him to deliver incredible programming for the upcoming Upfronts. Well, sources say he didn’t. Not only was Hill reportedly unprepared for Upfronts, he was also in over his head when it came to competing against other entities that seem to be doing Black content better than Black Entertainment Television — think cable networks like, VH1, OWN, Bravo, Oxygen, etc.

BET CEO Debra Lee didn’t mention any of that in her memo, but she did give Hill a glowing send-off (paraphrased below):

I want to let you know that Stephen Hill, President of Programming for BET Networks has decided to step down from his role.

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.

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.

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.

In addition to Hill, BET’s EVP Head of Original Programming Zola Mashariki is also exiting.

Good luck to Stephen and Zola in all of their future endeavors.

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  1. Pingback: Confirmed: BET Fires Executive While On Leave For Breast Cancer – HipHollywood

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