(Adds detail from internal memo, changes sourcing)
By Jessica Toonkel and Liana B. Baker
Jan 5 Viacom Inc on Thursday named
Sarah Levy, the chief operating officer of its Nickelodeon
network, COO of its global entertainment group, as new Chief
Executive Bob Bakish seeks to turn around the ailing media
Viacom is also set to make a handful of executive cuts in
its music and entertainment group, which includes cable networks
Comedy Central and MTV and had been led by 25-year veteran Doug
Herzog, who left the company this week, two sources told Reuters
The sources wished to remain anonymous because they are not
permitted to speak to the media.
Viacom created the global entertainment group late last year
to combine its international division with its music and
entertainment group as well as TV Land and CMT.
In her new role Levy will oversee a number of functions for
the global entertainment group, including strategy and business
development, research and operations, according to a memo
reviewed by Reuters to employees from Bakish.
"By aligning GEG operations, we're taking an important step
towards becoming a more integrated organization," Bakish said in
Viacom named Bakish, former head of its international
business, as acting CEO at the end of October, and then
permanent CEO on Dec. 12 when it announced the end of merger
explorations with CBS Corp.
Viacom, which also owns Nickelodeon and Paramount, has been
struggling to improve ratings and ad revenue. Last year, the
company's stock fell 14.7 percent.
Bakish is hoping to turn Viacom around. His strategy
includes improving relations with the media company's television
distributors as well as a focus on fixing MTV, he told Reuters
in an interview late last year.
Denise Denson, who headed distribution, left the company in
Viacom, which is majority owned by Sumner Redstone and his
daughter Shari Redstone, was embroiled in a corporate governance
drama for much of last year. In August, the Redstones won a
battle to maintain control of the company, resulting in the
dismissal of former CEO Philippe Dauman.
(Reporting By Jessica Toonkel in New York and Liana B. Baker in
San Francisco; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)