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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish Blames Past MTV Woes on ‘Bad Execution’ and the ‘Wrong Management’

But it’s all good now

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is bullish on MTV, and blames its struggles from a few years ago on “bad execution” and “the wrong management.”

“I think MTV is really a great case study when looking into Viacom at large,” Bakish said Wednesday at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference. “If you take MTV, circa November ’16, there were a lot of people saying, ‘It’s over, it’s lost its relevance, its ratings have gone down for five years in a row’… I, on the other hand, believed it was about bad execution and, really, the wrong management.”

“So we changed management, we adopted a new operating plan,” he continued, referring to a Sean-Atkins-for-Chris-McCarthy swap and the former music channel’s “shift towards more reality-based programming versus scripted.”

That move has helped content acquisition, which has revived TV ratings. It even brought MTV a broader (read: older) audience, age-wise.

“It’s part turnaround and part evolution — and that brand is in far better shape than it was two years ago, and we’re very happy with that,” he concluded.

In case readers were wondering, Bakish did not comment on former sister company CBS and the ouster of its chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves. Then again, he was not asked.