BET Networks said today that Connie Orlando has been officially appointed EVP Head of Programming, a role she stepped into on an interim basis in March after the cable network parted ways with President of Programming Stephen Hill and EVP Head of Original Programming Zola Mashariki. The latter departure resulted in a lawsuit filed by Mashariki against BET and parent company Viacom claiming gender discrimination and wrongful termination; the case is pending.
Orlando was most recently SVP Specials, Music Programming and News until she took on the new role. She will now lead original programming, music programming and specials, and the BET News teams responsible for creating, developing, and producing content across the network. She reports to BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee and will split time between the Los Angeles and New York offices.
“Having worked with Connie for the past 10 years, I continue to be impressed and inspired by her creativity and passion for the BET brand,” said Lee in making the announcement. “During her tenure at BET, Connie has played a critical role in the network’s largest expansion into original programming. She is beyond qualified and ready for this new challenge, and I am thrilled to have her in this role.”
In addition to serving as executive producer on all BET specials including the BET Awards, Orlando oversaw specials on Ferguson and Baltimore and helped launch the BET Truth Series featuring documentaries like Katrina 10 Years Later, Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ and Stay Woke. Before BET she had been a producer at her own CMO Productions.
“BET is an iconic brand that celebrates the influence and power of black culture through its content. I am honored to lead the network’s commitment to authentic, fresh and bold programming,” Orlando said. “We will continue to expand our reach, relevance and impact through strong original content, returning hits and specials. With our talented teams, we’re ready to take BET Networks to higher heights.”
In June, Lee named Michael D. Armstrong the General Manager of BET Networks, the latest revamp as Viacom configures its flagship cable brands that include Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, MTV and new The Paramount Network.