(Adds detail from internal memo, changes sourcing)
By Jessica Toonkel and Liana B. Baker
Jan 5 (Reuters) - 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 company.
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 on Thursday.
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 the memo.
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 December.
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)