The MTV Networks, eager to make its VH-1 channel “more relevant and meaningful,” has hired John Sykes, one of the creators of MTV, to replace Ed Bennett as president of VH-1.Sykes has resigned as executive VP of talent acquisition and marketing at EMI Music Publishing Worldwide. Reached there, he said about his new job, “We’re going to put on a lot more music that’s current.” Sykes reports officially to VH-1 later this month. Bennett didn’t return a phone call. In a terse press release, Freston said, “Over the last five years, Ed Bennett has built VH-1 into a successful business with tremendous distribution. We wish him well in the future.” In a conversation, Freston said that VH-1 is going to move away from its dependence on older musicvideos, or “library product,” as he termed it. “We’re targeting our programming to the MTV postgraduates,” he adds. Freston was critical of such VH-1 programming moves as commissioning the gossip-trivia gameshow “Rumor Has It,” and the acquisition of the “WKRP in Cincinnati” sitcom reruns. One of Sykes’ mandates will be to “work in tandem” with the MTV network on mining the current playlists, Freston says. Ideally, he continued, at any given time of the day at least one of the two networks will be playing a musicvideo.
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