Caught In Corporate Crossfire, Pay TV Exec Cox Quits Viacom

Tony Cox, one of most prominent executives in the pay-cable business over the last two decades, has resigned as senior VP of Viacom Inc.

Last month, corporate infighting between Cox and Steven Berrard, president and CEO of the Blockbuster Entertainment Group, led Cox to quit as chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks Inc. and settle for the less visible corporate post of senior VP of Viacom, the parent company of Blockbuster and Showtime. Cox had reported to Viacom president/CEO Frank Biondi. However, after the merger between Viacom and Blockbuster, Berrard became Cox’s boss.

Apparently unhappy about the new pecking order, Cox took the new post, which Viacom tried to position as a new the commitment to ignite the underperforming pay-per-view business. As one indication of this commitment, Cox, not Blockbuster Entertainment, would continue to be in charge of SET Pay Per View, the Viacom-owned company that produces concerts and prize fights, among other events, for distribution by Request, Viewer’s Choice and other PPV syndicators.

But even with a corporate mandate to ramp up the pay-per-view business, sources say Cox knew that the prohibitive expense of the set-top boxes meant that it would be years before movies on demand could become a serious competitor to the neighborhood video store.

There was no word from Viacom on where SET Pay Per View would end up in the corporate organization chart.

Cox served almost eight years as chairman of Showtime.

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