New GMs Set Course For Cartoon, CMT


Cartoon Network and Country Music Television's new general managers say they hope to just keep building on each network's current momentum.

Cartoon executive vice president and general manager Jim Samples and CMT senior vice president and general manager Brian Philips say they aren't planning any major changes to their respective networks, but rather will look to enhance an already successful programming and operational formula.

Samples, who takes over the Cartoon's reins after heading the network's online operations, inherits a network that's seen a dramatic ratings growth in recent months. Cartoon's 1.7 second-quarter 2001 rating was up 15 percent over last year, while experiencing viewership increases among key kids and adult demos. The network is in 74.6 million households.

"The scary thing about coming to the network now is that it's doing so well," Samples said. "The network is going gangbusters, and we'll look to bring in some new initiatives that will make the network even more exciting."

One of those initiatives is the development of original animated programming. This month the network launched its new Samurai Jack
animated series, and in September will debut its Adult Swim
adult viewer-targeted animated programming block.

"The important thing is Cartoon Network define itself as the best place for animation on cable," Samples said. "While kids love us, as we get more varied programming we'll attract more adults as well."

Samples will also spearhead an extension of the network's brand into theatrical movie arena with next year's release of a Power Puff Girls
movie. He'll also oversee the development of Cartoon Network
sister digital service Boomerang, currently in 2.5 million households. Samples replaces former network general manger Betty Cohen, who resigned in June to develop multiplatform programs and services aimed at teens and young adults for Cartoon parent AOL Time Warner Inc.

For Philips, the mission at CMT is to maintain the network's influential role in the country music arena while learning the cable television business. Philips arrives at CMT with no prior television experience, having worked at Susquehanna Broadcasting where he was the director of FM programming for the company's Dallas and Atlanta country radio stations.

Nevertheless, he said the network, which has 49 million subscribers, will continue to provide a mix of country music-oriented long form programming and music videos.

"The great thing about coming to CMT is our programming is in a constant state of evolution, so were always looking for better ways to bring the best in country music to our viewers," Philips said.

In related news, CMT announced last week it will offer a West-Coast feed beginning Sept. 10 serving the Pacific and Mountain regions as well as Alaska and Hawaii.