TiVo Chairman and CEO Michael Ramsay said last week he is stepping down as chief executive of the digital video recorder maker he helped launch in 1997. Mr. Ramsay will stay on as chairman of the Alviso, Calif.-based company and will continue as CEO until a successor is identified. The company has hired executive search firm Howard Fischer Associates to find Mr. Ramsay’s replacement. The departure of Mr. Ramsay comes at a delicate time for TiVo. The company, whose shares are down nearly 50 percent from a year ago, is transforming itself from simply a DVR maker into a technology company developing tools to promote interactive television and make recorded video content portable. Also weighing on the stock is TiVo’s reliance on DirecTV Group for customers; DirecTV is backing away from using DVRs predominantly from TiVo.
Viacom Shopping Around for Cable Networks
Viacom is looking to acquire more cable networks but is considering shedding television stations in some smaller markets as the company refines its asset mix, two of the media giant’s top executives said last week. “We are in the market for any good cable channels that are in our price range,” said Viacom Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone, speaking at a Smith Barney investor conference in Phoenix, though he admitted such networks are a “rare commodity.” At the same time, Viacom co-President and co-Chief Operating Officer Leslie Moonves said the company also may sell off some of its television stations in smaller markets, though he provided no details of which properties might be put up for sale. Viacom owns 20 CBS stations and 18 UPN stations. The possibility of a cable network acquisition comes as the company rethinks the importance of its A-minus credit rating. Mr. Redstone said Viacom is deciding whether to reduce its credit rating one notch, to BBB-plus, to increase the company’s leverage, have greater borrowing capacity for such acquisitions and increase Viacom’s share buyback program.
Banse to Head Comcast Content Development
Comcast last week said it promoted Amy Banse to senior VP of content development and executive VP of content development for its Comcast Cable unit as the company embarks on a plan to create content for a multitude of platforms. Ms. Banse will be responsible for developing products that interface with such formats as video-on-demand and high-speed data. She will report to both Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke. Ms. Banse previously served as VP of programming investments and was executive VP of Comcast’s programming investments division. She has been with Comcast since 1991.