Bob Bakish last week was named executive VP, operations, at Viacom as part of a reorganization of operations reporting to Tom Freston, co-president and co-chief operating officer. Mr. Bakish was formerly executive VP and COO, MTV Networks Advertising Sales. As a result of the reorganization, Tom McGrath, executive VP of Viacom Entertainment Group and president of Paramount Enterprises, is leaving the company. Herb Scannell, MTV Networks Group president, added responsibility for managing the Paramount parks and Viacom consumer productions operations; and Bill Roedy, president, MTV Networks International, added oversight of the Paramount comedy channels in the United Kingdom and Spain.
Chernin Signs Five-Year
Contract With News Corp.
News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin has signed a new employment contract with the media giant that keeps him in place as Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s No. 2 for another five years, the company said last week. The move lays to rest speculation that swirled earlier this year that Mr. Chernin would leave News Corp. for a position at another media company, most likely the top spot at The Walt Disney Co., whose current CEO, Michael Eisner, has been the subject of a months-long shareholder revolt. The contract is effective Aug. 1.
Charter Settles SEC Probe
A dark cloud looming over Paul Allen’s Charter Communications lifted last week after the cable operator and the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a settlement in the agency’s inquiry into how Charter counted subscribers. As part of the settlement, Charter agreed to settle an SEC administrative proceeding without admitting or denying guilt or having to pay a fine. The company also agreed to comply with an order to implement a series of measures designed to promote accurate and complete financial reporting. The agreement ends more than 20 months of uncertainty for St. Louis-based Charter, which has been trying to get itself out from under a mountain of debt while the possibility of SEC action loomed over it.
NBCU Cable, DirecTV Sign Pact
NBC Universal Cable signed a long-term carriage agreement with DirecTV that covers all of the former Universal content except the cable channel Trio. NBC is in the process of evaluating its plans for Trio, the arts network with about 20 million cable and satellite subscribers. A decision on Trio’s future is expected at the end of the summer. Included in the new agreement are digital retransmission consent for the NBC-owned TV stations, including hi-def coverage of the Athens Olympics; carriage of the USA and Sci Fi channels; and carriage of Bravo HD+, the high-definition channel. Also in the deal are pay-per-view rights to first-run Universal Pictures movies and NBCU specials. At the same time, NBC Universal Cable and DirecTV extended contracts for Bravo, Telemundo and mun2. Long-term deals are already in place for CNBC, MSNBC, CNBC World and the Olympics.
CSTV Secures Comcast Carriage
CSTV: College Sports Television has secured a carriage agreement with Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator. Local Comcast systems will be able to add CSTV to their systems on digital or digital sports tiers. Comcast will also make CSTV programming available via video-on-demand. CSTV also has distribution agreements with Time Warner Cable, Adelphia and DirecTV.