Tom Hayden Exits As President of Smithsonian Networks Amid Entertainment & Youth Group Integration & ViacomCBS Layoffs

Tom Hayden Smithsonian Channel
Courtesy of ViacomCBS

It’s been a brutal day across the cable networks of ViacomCBS in a new wave of post CBS-Viacom merger layoffs and reorganization. The highest profile departures have been in the Entertainment & Youth division, which is undergoing the final stage of its integration.

As part of that, Tom Hayden, President of Smithsonian Networks, will leave at the end of next month after a transition period. He joins Sarah Babineau, Head of Comedy Central Content & Creative Enterprises, who will be departing at the end of the year.

She is among a slew of executives that are being let go at Comedy Central, whose scripted team has been gutted, according to sources. I hear departures include Monika Zielinska, SVP, Original Programming and Development, West Coast; Anne Harris, SVP, Talent and Development, Tara Schuster, VP, Talent & Development, Christian McLaughlin, SVP Talent and Development and Daniel Wolfberg, Senior Manager, Talent & Development. At MTV,  Mala Chapple, SVP Content Strategy, Operations and Media Partnerships, is among those leaving.

They are part of post-ViacomCBS merger layoffs that were happening across the Entertainment & Youth unit today, with Pop and the Smithsonian Channel reportedly hit hard, and MTV and Lego also impacted, including a number of MTV News staffers who were let go today. Noone would comment but a number floated around indicates about 100 people may have been affected.

In an internal memo, Chris McCarthy, President of ViacomCBS’ Entertainment & Youth division, addressed the layoffs and restructuring, noting that the “changes were driven by two factors: Shifting from cable to content which is at the center of everything we do and moving from strong siloed brands to a powerful entertainment portfolio.”

The integration McCarthy is referring to involves bringing together and melding into a single organizational structure the four branded groups within the Entertainment & Youth unit: music (MTV, VH1, CMT & Logo), entertainment (Comedy Central, Paramount Network TV Line), with Pop and the Smithsonian Channel, which came from Showtime Networks after the merger, as standalone entities. While Hayden is leaving, for now, indications are that Pop TV President Bradley Schwartz is staying.

Hayden joined Showtime Networks in 1989. In 2006, he was tasked with launching and developing Smithsonian Channel, a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution, which launched in 2007.

Here is McCarthy’s memo:


By now I’m sure you’ve heard, today we took the final step to merge our four branded groups into one unified creative organization.

To that end, we made the extremely tough decision to part ways with staff members across our teams. These changes were driven by two factors:

    • Shifting from cable to content which is at the center of everything we do
    • Moving from strong siloed brands to a powerful entertainment portfolio

We didn’t come to these decisions quickly or easily, but rather after a thoughtful process over the past few months. This new structure will take advantage of our full scale and shared expertise. More to come on that in the next few days.

As much as these changes are necessary, I know they aren’t easy on anyone – they shouldn’t be. We aren’t just saying goodbye to work colleagues, but our friends and family.

Please join me in thanking those who are leaving and express our gratitude for their many contributions.

With appreciation,


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