Search form

Scannell Ankles MTV & Nick; Zarghami to Lead New MTVN Kids & Family Group

Herb Scannell has stepped down as vice chairman, MTV Networks, and president, Nickelodeon Networks to pursue other business opportunities, triggering a restructuring of the Nickelodeon Networks management structure. Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon Television, assumes leadership of a newly formed MTVN Kids and Family group, which includes Nickelodeon Television, Nick at Nite, Nick Online, Nick Movies, Noggin/The N, Nicktoons Television, Nickelodeon Games and Sports (Nick GAS), as well as Nickelodeon's magazine and recreation divisions and Nickelodeon's new digital businesses, including Neopets.

Additionally, TV Land, which previously was under the Nickelodeon Networks brand, joins Spike TV and Comedy Central under president Doug Herzog, with TV Land president Larry Jones reporting into Herzog. Jones continues to lead Nick at Nite with a dual report into Zarghami. All of these changes take effect immediately.

"Herb and I have worked together for nearly two decades, and I've appreciated him as a creative and strategic thinker and, most importantly, as a friend," said Judy McGrath, chairman/ceo of MTV Networks. "He has guided Nickelodeon Networks to an unrivaled leadership position and has broadened its businesses to engage viewers beyond the TV screen in licensing, movies, recreation and much more. He is a true innovator, and he is leaving a great legacy for our company and the industry."

Scannell began his career at Nickelodeon in 1988 as director of programming and rose through the ranks before being named president of the network in 1996. He has brought some of kids' and cable's most popular characters to the screen, including SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, RUGRATS, JIMMY NEUTRON, DORA THE EXPLORER and BLUE'S CLUES, a well as built a vibrant consumer products division, growing it from $100 million in retail sales to what is now the third largest licensing company in the world, with more than $4 billion in retail revenues in 2005.

During his tenure, Nickelodeon opened a new animation studio in Burbank, California; launched its feature film division, which has released 14 movies grossing more than a billion dollars and netting Academy Award nominations; launched Noggin/The N, Nicktoons and Nick GAS channels; and, most recently, positioned Nickelodeon as the kids online leader with the launch of its TurboNick broadband platform and the acquisition of Neopets.

Also under his watch, TV Land launched as a 24-hour spin-off of Nick at Nite, dedicated to "everything television." Today, it is the unequivocal "home of classic TV" on the cable dial, now moving into original production and is at full distribution. Nick at Nite has achieved all-time ratings levels and is regularly the #1 network with women 18-49 and among the top three in adults 18-49.

In 2003, Scannell added group president to his responsibilities, transforming TNN into today's Spike TV, the first network for men. He was named vice chairman, MTV Networks; and president, Nickelodeon Networks, in 2005. Spike has become a destination for advertisers seeking hard-to-reach men. It is coming off a record year with double-digit growth and is slated to launch its first new hour dramas, and is well positioned as one of the growth engines for new Viacom.

Regarding his departure, Scannell said, "After nearly 20 years with MTV Networks and Nickelodeon, I felt this was the right time to move to the next leadership position in my career. I have great faith in the management teams in place at Nickelodeon, TV Land and Spike TV, and am confident that these networks will continue their outstanding performance and maintain the extraordinary bonds with their audiences that have made them so successful. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to lead such an exceptional team, which has built some of the strongest brands in our business."

Zarghami began her career with Nickelodeon in 1985 and was instrumental role in the company's marketing partnerships, initiatives and growth, including the launch of Nickelodeon UK in 1993 and Nick at Nite's TV Land launch in 1996. Named gm of Nickelodeon in 1996, she helped launch all of Nickelodeon's major dayparts, including Nick Jr., SNICK (Saturday Night Nickelodeon) and TEENick. Zarghami has introduced many of Nickelodeon's signature programming and achievements and breakthrough packaging concepts such as Slime Time Live and U Pick Live.

"Cyma's creativity, vision, passion for her audience and incomparable track record make her the best person to lead our Kids and Family group," said McGrath. "She has consistently proven herself to have the foresight, management expertise and consumer expertise we'll need to continue our strong momentum at the Nickelodeon networks and take them to the next level of multiplatform success."

Zarghami has managed a continuous string of hits at Nickelodeon, introducing top-rated live action hits, such as ZOEY 101, DRAKE AND JOSH and UNFABULOUS, preschool series THE BACKYARDIGANS and GO, DIEGO, GO!, and new animated series, THE X'S and CATSCRATCH.

An advocate for kid's issues, under Zarghami, Nickelodeon continued its leadership position in the fight against childhood obesity by going off the air for the second straight year on its Worldwide Day of Play, and entering into a partnership with the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association's Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

"What has made Nickelodeon successful, in addition to an extraordinary team of people, is the notion that Nickelodeon's brand is greater than the sum of its parts," Zarghami said. "It will be the coordination of all our parts that will allow us to take kids and family entertainment to the next level and bring our great content to all distribution platforms."

Zarghami added, "It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to have worked with Herb over the years, and I will miss his creative and strategic thinking. I'm sure his next endeavor will also be a great success."

Nickelodeon (, now in its 26th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the U.S. and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 89 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for more than 10 consecutive years.

MTV Networks (, a unit of Viacom, is one of the world's leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. MTV Networks, with more than 100 channels worldwide, owns and operates the following television programming services MTV: MUSIC TELEVISION, MTV2, VH1, mtvU, NICKELODEON, NICK at NITE, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV LAND, SPIKE TV, CMT, MTVN INTERNATIONAL and THE SUITE FROM MTV NETWORKS which includes LOGO, NOGGIN, VH1 Classic and 13 digital services, all of these networks are trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks connects with its audiences through its robust consumer products businesses and its more than 80 interactive properties worldwide, including online, broadband, wireless and interactive television services and also has licensing agreements, joint ventures and syndication deals whereby all of its programming services can be seen worldwide.