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Marianne Paskowski

Heacock, First Big Casualty in MTV Reorg

February 13, 2007 8:03 PM

Just got off the phone with Jessica Heacock, MTV’s executive VP of affiliate ad sales at MTV Networks, who was among the first of a total of 250 employees who either got a pink slip or will get one this week.

Didn’t expect to find her answering her phone, tonight. But there she was. She’s also this year’s chair of Women in Cable & Telecommunications and will continue in that role. The group convenes in New York in early March, and she will be there, presiding.

Heacock has an interesting pedigree, and that’s perhaps why she seemed so upbeat about her personal bad news today, and her future. She’s been a fixture at MTV circa 2001, coming from Cox Communications, in a similar role, marketing. Earlier, God bless this woman, she endured life under Charlie Ergen (the penny pincher) at Echostar’s Dish TV, also in marketing.

So my burning question to all is this: Are mid-level managers, in their mid 40’s, heaven forbid older, male or female, being squeezed out of corporate America to make way for the next generation? And how will the rich trove of television practices, they all have stored in their brains, be passed on to the 20-30 somethings who all think they know everything? Talk to me.


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Comments (13)

Char Beales:

Content companies have to walk a fine line between letting young (low priced) creatives develop new businesses and being sure there is a sustainable business model. The I(high priced) media oldsters have had to live and die by producing robust business returns quarter after quarter. They benefited from a proven revenue model

Will the next generation focus on making money or creating cool -- or both? MTV will be a test.

Interested observer


I couldn't agree more about your concerns about the next generation of media executives. It's not that they lack brains or talent, they just have never had the exposure to retail-level consumer interaction that you get in a broadcast station. In fact I said much the same thing in a recent column about the Cartoon Network debacle in Boston:




In the short term, older knowledge workers probably will be displaced. But as time passes, corporations may finally make the observation that older works could take more time to complete a task but they make less mistakes - therefore less rework. There is corporate value in that so knowledge works should find work in a non traditional way as contractors and may have to help educate the youngster x & y generations.

However, the vast unskilled or narrowly skilled older generation will find they are out of luck and will have great difficulty competing with youth. The folks getting laid off from the Big 3 auto manufactures are going to be hard pressed to find suitable work at that level of pay when China and India can handle that work easily.

The squeeze is coming big time. Hopefully, folks have cultivated broad and deep skills in many areas to keep them employed.


I cant believe that this happened. Our good friends and respected colleagues Jessica and Sandy have gotten a raw deal.Tthey are great people and i wish them well. The company that gets them will be very lucky.

This is very disturbing,that the over 40 crowd is getting marginalized.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Char,

Well you will see in my column next week how MTV is trying to grapple with the problem you describe: the balance between young and hip and middled aged and know where all the skieletons are, visa vis, their relationships. My take: many baby boomers become independent contractors. And I know that for a fact.

Thanks my friend,

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Arthur,
Don't get me worng, I love new people and new thoughts. Caveat. Need to be well thought out. They need leadership from those who have toiled in the battle. Looks like they won't get it.

Keep coming back,

Marianne Paskowski:


This trend to replace boomers with whatever is not short term, it's long term, and all about benefits. The cost of health insurance. Has very little to do with digital skills. Read my column next week, to see exactly what is happening at MTV's layoffs.

Always great to hear from you,

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Poncho,
You and I know these people. I cannot believe MTV chieftan Judy McGrath swung the axe so ferociously. She must have some bigtime payout. Or so my sources say. I hear she's miserable, lost a lot of weight, and will tell her friends when they complement her, "Stress is not a great diet. "

Still she did it,

Marianne Paskowski:

More: Well several people got three-year packages for exiting MTV Nets. Best buzz of the day, and it's, in my headset, low level chatter: Is MTV cleaning up the bottom line to sell its cable nets to Comcast, the nation's number one MSO.

Don't forget, Comcast made a hostile bid to aquire the content of Disney.That move failed. And it looks like this one will, as well, according to my vine. But that's the buzz.

Check in, spill, now nicknames only,


Hell yes, if ur in ur 40's they think your old in Hollwood. After working on 4 top shows on 3 networks, i can bearly get them to return a call or look at new material.

And they wonder why everything on TV is the same. The 4 networks need to creat a place that everyone can bring their matterial and let it be judged for what it is. THINK of how much great art is not done because you cant get someone with power to look at it.

I developed a new sitcom that has never been done on TV and only could get 2 networks to grudging look at it and only one had the gut's top email back and say it's not what we are looking for right now.

Mark Hill

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Mark,
I'm advising everyone over 40 to buy a tube of Loreal Collagen (new product) looks just like something you would caulk your bathtub with, but it works, better than Botox. Just we have to outfake them all, anyway we can.

Thanks for sharing,

A key exec:

Remember, the hippest, youngest guy many of us have ever known in our careers is Tom Freston. Cool and relevant isn't the sole province of the

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Key...

sole province of what.? You are leaving us a little baffled. Whatever, I still think he's cool and relevant and I hope he soon resurfaces.


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