Following an eventful last 6 months for the network (star Gabrielle Union’s “Being Mary Jane” lawsuit, Stephen Hill exiting his spot as president of programming, EVP of Original Programming Zola Mashariki filing a discrimination lawsuit against the network, and the shutting down of its flagship offices in Washington, DC, moving to New York City), BET has announced 3 new leadership appointments, first naming Viacom International exec Michael D. Armstrong the new General Manager of the network (Viacom is the parent company of BET).
In his new position, Armstrong will shepherd strategy and operations, with direct oversight of content strategy, multiplatform scheduling, marketing, corporate communications and operations. He will report directly to BET chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee.
In addition, longtime BET staffers Jeanine Liburd and Donna Blackman have been promoted to Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and Senior Vice President of Business Operations, respectively.
“Today’s announcement outlines key changes to our operating structure that further solidify our position as a thriving global brand,” said CEO Lee. “Michael exemplifies the values of strong, dynamic leadership – and his vast knowledge of our industry and how our audiences connect with content is unmatched. Known for their passion for our business and their strong experience in the industry, Jeanine and Donna have a proven track record of developing dynamic strategies that have accelerated growth, elevated brand awareness for BET and engaged consumers worldwide. These appointments will strengthen our ability to drive growth in ratings and digital metrics, achieve strategic goals and deliver strong financial performance.”
I should note that Mashariki’s discrimination lawsuit is still pending.
What the appointments of Armstrong, Liburd and Blackman (although Armstrong specifically, given his new title) might mean for BET programming isn’t clear at this point.
Today’s news comes after a strong night for the network’s “BET Awards” which won cable TV on Sunday night in terms of ratings. And 2 months ago, the network announced a hefty 2017-2018 programming slate at its annual Upfront presentation in New York, which includes new original primetime and late night series, new biopics and documentary series based on real-life musical icons, and more, all under the theme “BET is saying YES…” to talent and original programming.