Former GM to serve as network's president

MTV Networks has upped Comedy Central exec veep-general manager Michele Ganeless to prexy of the net.

Move formalizes a change that had begun last year when former Comedy Central prexy Doug Herzog was promoted to oversee the then-newly created MTVN Entertainment Group, with Ganeless since then assuming many presidential responsibilities.

Net said that in addition to its brand and business, Ganeless will focus heavily on digital expansion. Comedy Central has been a canary in a coal mine on digital issues as its programming is coveted — and pirated — by Web-savvy viewers; Viacom-owned net is seen as a major factor in the conglom’s decision to sue YouTube.

In an interview, Ganeless said she was pleased with the number of platforms on which Comedy’s programming is available but that she would continue to push ahead on the ad-revenue front.

“The business model is in a good place in terms of download-to-own; I think we need to evolve it in terms of advertiser involvement,” she said.

Comedy Central makes available only snippets of shows like “South Park” across various platforms; full episodes are not currently available as free, ad-supported streams.

Net last week also announced a major digital initiative with “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that will see the duo create, and share in the profits from, original digital content.

Ganeless is a longtime Herzog compatriot, having worked with him at both USA and in previous roles at Comedy Central. Ganeless did two tours of duty at the laffer net before coming back as g.m. in 2004.

Since she’s returned, the net has successfully launched a number of new series, including “The Colbert Report” and “The Sarah Silverman Show,” though the net’s big summer debut, “Lil’ Bush,” was considered a disappointment.

Ganeless also said Comedy Central would seek off-network acquisitions but cautioned that it would be very selective; cabler has recently gotten into the off-net game by acquiring “Scrubs” and “Futurama.”

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