Viacom has named international vet Robert Bakish its acting president and CEO. He’ll officially start the company’s top gig on Nov. 15, when Tom Dooley steps down. Dooley actually only took over for Philippe Dauman about two months ago.
Bakish will take those same two titles at newly formed business unit Viacom Global Entertainment Group. That umbrella setup combines his International Media Networks with the company’s Music and Entertainment Group, which houses MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Spike and Logo. Bakish was already president and chief executive officer at International Media Networks.
TV Land and CMT will join the consolidated portfolio, which Bakish will oversee. Additionally, Viacom’s Kids and Family Group will be reestablished as the Nickelodeon Group. BET Networks will continue to function as a dedicated and separate group.
Bakish joined Viacom in 1997. Under his leadership across the past decade, the company’s international business has eclipsed more than 200 TV channels, reaching a cumulative 3.9 billion subscribers. International revenue has doubled during his overall tenure.
Going forward, Bakish will be responsible for accelerating the growth of Viacom’s networks and reinvigorating its brands, per a Monday afternoon press release. He’ll also focus on investing in and developing new content, expanding distribution, and pursuing strategic growth opportunities in Viacom’s core businesses.
Longterm Viacom chief Dauman accepted a pretty healthy golden parachute to walk away from the company this summer, following a year-long battle with former mentor Sumner Redstone and daughter Shari Redstone. Viacom must surely hope Bakish is the man who can make that ugliness a distant memory — or at least last an actual fiscal quarter in the immensely important role.
“Bob’s record of innovation and achievement at Viacom, combined with his strategic vision and leadership ability, make him highly qualified for this position,” said Tom May, chairman of the Board. “We are determined to move forward aggressively to strengthen Viacom for the future, whether as a stand-alone company or in a potential combination with CBS. There is a great deal of opportunity ahead and Bob is a superb leader to drive this effort, fully empowered to take the actions necessary to position Viacom for success.”
“To be a successful leader in the industry today requires continuous flexibility, a global perspective, a commitment to innovation and an embrace of change,” Shari added. “Bob is an exemplary forward thinker who embodies these traits, embraces disruption and brings teams along with him. Under his leadership our great employees will be supported in their efforts to bring world class content and experiences to our audiences, while we continue to drive improvements in Viacom’s financial performance.”
“I look forward to working closely with the Board of Directors, senior management and our talented and hardworking people around the world to realize the full potential of Viacom’s outstanding assets for the benefit of our audiences, partners and stockholders,” Bakish stated. “Content is the lifeblood of our business and my near-term focus will be to nurture our creative output and brands, ensuring they remain distinctive, differentiated and powerful in an increasingly competitive global media landscape.”