Tom Freston and Leslie Moonves have been appointed co-presidents and co-coos of Viacom Inc., effective immediately, after the unexpected resignation of Mel Karmazin as chairman/ceo. Freston and Moonves will jointly oversee all of the operations of Viacom, as directed by Sumner M. Redstone, Viacom chairman/ceo. The companys corporate staff will report directly to Redstone.
Freston has been chairman/ceo of Viacoms MTV Networks unit since 1987. In addition to MTV Networks, Freston will be responsible for overseeing the operations of Showtime, BET, Paramount Parks, Simon & Schuster and the motion picture operations of Paramount Pictures.
Moonves has been serving as chairman/ceo of CBS since 2003. He joined CBS in 1995 as president, CBS Ent. In addition to overseeing Viacoms broadcast television businesses, Moonves will be responsible for the operations of Paramount TV, Infinity Broadcasting and Viacom Outdoor.
As part of this new succession plan, the 81-year-old Redstone has indicated that he will relinquish his role as ceo within three years. Redstone will continue to work with the board of directors to identify his successor and to designate candidates for other senior positions in the corporation.
Viacom is poised to move into a new era of growth led by an innovative team of executives, beginning with our new Presidents and chief operating officers, Tom Freston and Les Moonves, said Redstone. I have worked closely with both Tom and Les for many years and there are no two finer executives in the media industry. Each has presided over phenomenal growth stories, Les in broadcast and Tom at the cable networks, and each has served as an integral member of Viacoms senior management team. Obviously, Tom and Les are the two leading candidates to be the next ceo of Viacom.
Redstone continued, We very much regret Mels decision to resign and we wish him well. He has been instrumental in Viacoms operating success since our merger with CBS and he leaves with an extraordinary track record of accomplishment. We appreciate that he has agreed to stay on as a consultant for two months to help Tom and Les with the transition to their new posts.