MTV Shuffle Elevates McGrath


New York-Following the merger of CBS Cable into its portfolio, MTV Networks restructured its corporate-management team last week and laid off 43 people, mainly in Stamford, Conn.

MTV: Music Television president Judy McGrath took on the newly created position of president of the MTV Group and chairman of Interactive Music, giving her the added responsibility for The MTVi Group, MTVN's Internet operations.

"It's something Judy has a lot of interest in, and a lot of our future is hanging on this," MTVN chairman Tom Freston said.

VH1 president John Sykes was also named president of Country Music Television, formerly part of CBS Cable, which has been folded into MTVN as the result of CBS Corp.'s acquisition of MTVN parent Viacom Inc.

In the ongoing aftermath, MTVN laid off 43 staffers last Wednesday, mostly at CBS Cable's Stamford headquarters, but also in Denver and Chicago. The layoffs hit affiliate sales, finance, legal and business affairs.

CBS Cable came under Freston's wing after Viacom's merger with CBS, and the consolidation process and layoffs have followed.

"It's sooner than we thought we'd do it," Freston said. "But we're pretty finished."

Staffers will get severance pay of one-and-a-half weeks' salary for each year at CBS Cable, which is standard CBS policy.

McGrath's new mandate is to accelerate the seamless integration of MTVN's music-television and Web businesses, which include, and "She is the link," Freston said.

McGrath should also attract new talented creative people to the Web side of the business, as she has with MTV, Freston said.

Van Toffler, former MTV general manager, is now president of MTV and MTV2, reporting to McGrath.

MTVi Group president and CEO Nicholas Butterworth will also report to McGrath. After the planned public offering of MTVi shares, McGrath will be the MTVN executive in charge of managing MTVN's investment in the Internet company.

CMT general manager Paul Hastaba now reports to Sykes. And David Hall-previously president of both CMT and The Nashville Network-will focus on TNN as president of that network.

CMT is a music network at its core, and Sykes can leverage MTVN's music expertise to "build up its credibility" and broaden it somewhat, Freston said.

In contrast, TNN is "a general-interest network of sort," and MTVN's goal is "to make a top 10 cable network out of it," he added.

Bill Roedy, president of MTV and VH1 International, has the new position of president of MTV Networks International, which includes Nickelodeon International.