December 21, 2016 / 6:25 PM / 7 months ago

Viacom unit head overseeing MTV, Comedy Central to leave

Doug Herzog, president of the Comedy Central television network, arrives at the South Park The Tenth Season party in Los Angeles September 21, 2006.Fred Prouser

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Longtime Viacom Inc (VIAB.O) executive Doug Herzog, who oversees the networks Comedy Central and MTV, is leaving the company next month, according to a memo to employees sent Wednesday from chief executive Bob Bakish.

Herzog, a 25-year veteran at Viacom known for helping develop such MTV hits as "The Real World" and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," is leaving as part of a restructuring following the appointment of Bob Bakish as chief executive officer earlier this month, sources told Reuters.

Herzog was most recently president of Viacom's Music and Entertainment Group which also includes VH1, Spike and Logo. Bakish said in the memo that the brands in Herzog's group will now directly report to him.

Viacom named Bakish, former head of its international business, as acting chief executive officer at the end of October, then permanent CEO on Dec. 12 as it announced the end of merger explorations with CBS Corp (CBS.N).

He is the second high-ranking executive to announce a departure this month. Viacom's head of distribution, Denise Denson, a longtime executive who worked closely with former CEO Philippe Dauman, left earlier in December.

Envy of Peers?

Bakish thanked Herzog for his "incredible contributions" to Viacom, noting his "sharp creative insight."

In his own memo to his staff, Herzog reciprocated Bakish's praise, telling employees they were "in very good hands" and predicting that Viacom would once again become "the envy of its peers."

Herzog began his career at Viacom as president of MTV Productions in 1984 and became president of Comedy Central in 1995.

After leaving the company for a few years, he returned in 2004 to head the music and entertainment group.

While Herzog helped elevate MTV and Comedy Central during his tenure, over the past few years both networks have suffered from lacklustre ratings and the loss of talent such as Jon Stewart, the former host of "The Daily Show," and Stephen Colbert, the host of "The Colbert Report."

In an interview with Reuters in November, Bakish said fixing MTV is one of his top priorities.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Grant McCool

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