In the official announcement of President and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks Robert Bakish as acting CEO of Viacom, he also was named President and Chief Executive Officer of a new TV unit, Viacom Global Entertainment Group, which combines VIMN division, which he ran, with the Company’s Music and Entertainment Group, overseen by Doug Herzog, which includes MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Spike and Logo.
As part of the restructuring, TV Land and CMT, which had been part of the Viacom Kids and Family Group, overseen by Cyma Zarghami for the past year and a half, will now move to the Global Entertainment Group. Zarghami’s group will revert to being the Nickelodeon Group, which it was before TV Land and CMT were added to her portfolio of Nickelodeon and its offshoots.
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Essentially, the new Global Entertainment Group consolidates the old Viacom Entertainment Group under Herzog, which consisted of Comedy Central, Spike TV and TV Land, and MTV Networks under Van Toffler, comprised by MTV, VH1 and CMT, as they were before Van Toffler’s February 2015 exit. At the time, MTV Networks was split up, with Herzog taking over MTV and VH1 and Zarghami getting CMT, in addition to TV Land. The relocation of TV Land to the Kids and Family group led to the departure of president Larry Jones. Now the network is returning to its old family of networks.
No one is commenting on the rationale behind the new restructuring. While it makes business sense to put domestic and international networks under the same roof, that is being done for MTV and MTV International networks and Comedy Central and Comedy Central International networks but not for Nickelodeon and its international counterparts in the new setup.
Examining the new structure, it appears that the company is streamlining its TV operations, consolidating its domestic cable brands in three distinct groups — Music and Entertainment; Nickelodeon, targeting kids; and BET Networks, catering to African American audiences — as the company prepares for a potential merger with CBS.
“We’re not going to stand still while the CBS merger is being evaluated,” Bakish wrote in his internal memo about the restructuring today. “I believe there’s a lot of work we can do in the near-term to make us stronger, no matter what the next chapter of Viacom is.”
While the formal Viacom announcement did not include Bakish’s leadership team at the new unit, in his memo he confirmed that Herzog, Zarghami and BET Networks’ Debra Lee are staying put.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the leadership teams at the corporate and divisional level – and all of you – to move us forward,” he said. “That will include partnering with Doug, Cyma, Debra and VIMN leadership to make sure the Media Networks reorganization that was announced helps to strengthen our brands in every market we operate, and allows us to make the most of our global scale.”
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