NEW YORK — Sports fans love records, and Tony Petitti, the new executive producer at CBS Sports, may have set one of his own.
At least no one can remember an exec going from VP/general manager of WCBS-TV New York to senior VP of station operations for the Viacom TV-station group to the No. 2 job in the sports division in one week.
Petitti was awarded the parent company job July 15, took a three-day vacation and on Tuesday took the CBS job. He’ll report directly to division president Sean McManus.
Taking note of the two promotions within seven days, McManus said, “At this rate, he’ll be the emperor of CBS by the end of the summer.”
Petitti, who earlier this month was just coming to the end of his third year as VP and general manager of WCBS-TV New York, was handed the Viacom post as part of the regime being set up by a former boss of his at ABC a decade ago, Dennis Swanson.
Early last week, Swanson had just taken over as executive VP and chief operating officer of the Viacom TV-stations group, and his first move was to pull Petitti from WCBS and give him the O&O job.
But things changed when, within the week, Terry Ewert resigned as executive producer of CBS Sports. McManus sounded out Petitti to take over Ewert’s position.
“I was given two great opportunities,” Petitti said, “but it wasn’t really that difficult because sports is where my heart is.”
Before he’d joined WCBS in August 1999, Petitti served for 2½ years as senior VP of business affairs and programming for CBS Sports, working closely with McManus to help the network buy the rights to a portion of the National Football League contract and to negotiate contract extensions with the PGA Tour and U.S. Open Tennis Championships, among others.
Before joining CBS Sports, Petitti spent eight years as an executive with ABC Sports, where he got to know Swanson. Petitti rose to VP of programming for ABC Sports from 1994 to 1996.
As executive producer of CBS Sports, Petitti said, “I’ll oversee the production, the on-air look and the talent, as well as such intangibles as the feel and the direction of the programming.”