MTV group shuffles exex, realigns nets

Freston moves bodies, readies TNN for mass-market leap

NEW YORK — Bill Roedy, president of MTV and VH1 Intl., has been given the new post of president, MTV Networks Intl. He will be responsible for all MTV Networks’ operations outside the U.S., including Nickelodeon.

His appointment is part of a reshuffling generated by the merger of MTV’s parent Viacom with CBS. Three top officials of MTV Networks have also chalked up bigger responsibilities (Daily Variety, June 8).

“Business is bursting out, and we’re exploding in size,” says Tom Freston, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, explaining why he made the personnel shifts.

Freston says that Judy McGrath, president of MTV: Music Television and MTV2, will become the executive responsible for running MTV’s investment in the MTVi Group when Viacom eventually engineers an initial public offering of the MTVi Group.

Nicholas Butterworth, president of the MTVi Group, will now report to McGrath instead of to Freston.

“I’m looking to create a seamless blend between MTV’s Internet operation and its TV business,” Freston said, explaining the reason for placing MTVi under McGrath’s aegis.

Freston said he split off CMT from TNN after the merger with CBS because CMT will stick to its role as a 24-hour music channel, while TNN continues to shed its Nashville-country label and reposition itself as a general-entertainment network.

TNN could leap into the mass-audience arena if the USA Network’s lawsuit against Viacom loses in a Delaware court next week. USA has sued Viacom, claiming that its proposed contract with the World Wrestling Federation to shift the high-rated WWF Sunday and Monday primetime cablecasts from USA to TNN beginning in September is invalid because USA has an ironclad right of first refusal.

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