- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

Michael Pickrum is heading up daily operations at BET Interactive, a D.C. online media company that promotes the Black Entertainment Television network and other urban interests.

BET Interactive, a 1999 Internet startup, is separate from BET, the D.C. cable channel now owned by Viacom Inc.

Although the online media company controls BET.com, the main Web site for the television network that gets 5.7 million visitors monthly, BET Interactive is owned by several groups, including Viacom, Microsoft Corp., InterActiveCorp and other smaller investors.

Mr. Pickrum, 34, joined the company during its initial year and has advanced from business development vice president to senior vice president and chief operating officer.

He will run the daily operations at BET Interactive while working with head executives at the media company and BET network on converging the two interests into the Web site.

“In my former position, I really focused on ways of creating value for the Web site by working with divisions across the board at BET and that gave me great insight into the goals of this company,” Mr. Pickrum said.

Mr. Pickrum replaces Scott Mills, who moved to BET’s corporate office as executive vice president and chief financial officer.

He plans to focus on increasing customer traffic and advertising partners on the Web site.

“One of the biggest challenges for any interactive media company is showing advertisers — who are used to the limits and goals of traditional media — the unique value of online advertising,” Mr. Pickrum said.

BET President and Chief Operating Officer Debra L. Lee said she chose Mr. Pickrum to run most of BET Interactive because of his experience with helping to start the Internet company.

“Michael has been strategically involved in virtually every critical decision [affecting] BET Interactive since we first launched its flagship product, BET.com, more than three years ago,” Ms. Lee said.

In addition to promoting the BET brand, Mr. Pickrum said, he also will work on incorporating new urban-style content to the Web site that would appeal to the predominately black audience.

“We’re a main portal to the African-American audience, and we want to provide some new content and our strong BET brand on the site to keep that standing,” he said.

Mr. Pickrum lives in Mitchellville with his wife, Lisa, and their two children.

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