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The Art of the Deal

Jun 27, 2007  •  Post A Comment

With the branded entertainment world heating up, Carat Entertainment and MY Entertainment Co. reached out for some added management muscle, naming Joseph Townley chief operating officer.
Mr. Townley has a long background as a dealmaker and producer. Before joining Carat and MY Entertainment, both run by Michael Yudin, Mr. Townley was executive producer of MY Entertainment’s “Pros vs. Joes,” now in its third season on Spike TV.
Mr. Townley produced “Pros vs. Joes” for Mr. Yudin when the former was president of Clear Channel Entertainment Television. At Clear Channel, Mr. Townley expanded the division by getting into original program development and ownership of content.
But when the company was sold to Live Nation and shifted to the concert promotion business in 2006, Mr. Townley left, becoming a consultant. He took with him the rights to “Pros vs. Joes” and started working with Mr. Yudin on other projects.
As COO of Carat and MY, Mr. Townley is expected to free up Mr. Yudin to spend more time on development and client initiatives. But Mr. Townley plans to remain involved on the creative side of the business while he does the heavy lifting on the business side.
“I’m bringing a ton of creative experience and a lot of negotiation on business deals,” Mr. Townley said. “I feel fairly confident that I will generate some new business and create profitable partnerships.”
He said he’s looking forward to working with Carat clients and brands.
“Really the strength is Carat and the assets that the company brings to a development production company,” he said. “Network budgets are becoming harder and harder to tap into, and the networks are always looking for a creative financial way to fund and produce programming.”
Having advertisers already on board for a programming project gives MY Entertainment a leg up. “It’s a nice model to sit down at a table with and start the process,” Mr. Townley said.
Growing up in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle, Mr. Townley wanted to be a sports broadcaster, and he went to college at C.W. Post, which had a great radio station.
“I immediately realized I was going to be a behind-the-scenes production guy,” he said. “That dream kind of went quickly.”
Mr. Townley learned about radio at Post before transferring to the University of Maryland.
“I wanted to head to TV, and Maryland had big sports teams and I was into sports,” he said.
After leaving school he got an internship with WUSA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, where he worked on local news and local sports as the Washington Redskins won Super Bowls and Georgetown played in the NCAA basketball tournament.
Then he took a job at MSG Networks in New York, where he launched a studio operation and developed original programs for time periods when the channel wasn’t airing live game broadcasts.
“The Garden was doing terrific and the teams were doing terrific and there was a lot of dollars to put on original programming,” he said.
At that time, ownership of the Garden was changing from Paramount to Viacom to ITT. When ITT formed a joint venture with Dow Jones to launch WBIS+, a TV station that would air business news in the daytime and sports at night, Mr. Townley was drafted as station manger.
Three days after the station debuted, Hilton Hotels launched a bid for ITT, and WBIS+ went on the block. Soon it was sold to Paxson Communications, which fired all but three engineers from a staff of 263.
That took Mr. Townley to SFX, which put him in another cycle of ownership changes as it was bought by Clear Channel, which sold his division to Live Nation.
Mr. Townley said he plays a few rounds of golf when he has time, but spends most of his free time with his family, which includes three daughters, aged 19, 17 and 13, and an 8-year-old son.
“These kids keep me young,” he said.
Recently, Mr. Townley was packing his daughter up to send her to the University of Maryland and found himself thinking, “I can’t imaging what this is going to be like when my son’s going.”
Who knew?: When he’s ready to leave the business, Mr. Townley would like to wind down by teaching at the university level. Although he’s a huge American history buff, he thinks he’s probably better qualified to teach either the broadcast business or the art of negotiating.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.

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