Jones, Hill in BET program


BET Networks has named Loretha Jones and Stephen Hill to its top programming posts.

They fill the void left by Reginald Hudlin, who stepped down in September after three years as president of entertainment.

Jones, who was senior vp development at fellow Viacom unit Paramount/MTV Films, will serve as president of programming, responsible for original programming, news, development, planning and acquisitions.

Hill had run the network in the interim in an executive vp position. He now is president of programming, responsible for music programming and specials.

Both report to BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee, who said the decision to fill the top programming position with two executives was spurred by how much the role involves and added that there was no corporate pressure to hire from within the company.

"Stephen has been doing a great job here for years; I thought it made sense to promote him," she said. "I only met Loretha through this process, but she is a very impressive executive with a great background. She's going to bring a different perspective to the team."

Lee said BET isn't planning any major strategy changes as it continues to ramp up its original programming efforts. BET has been seeing some ratings growth with such shows as "Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is" and "American Gangster," but Lee admits that the network still is looking for a "breakout megahit that really crosses into other areas."

She added that BET is planning major coverage leading up to and after President-elect Barack Obama takes office. (partialdiff)