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ViacomCBS Networks Intl. Rejigs Leadership Across Two Brand Groups and Three Regional Hubs

ViacomCBS has restructured international operations following the closing of the merger in December, with two brand groups and three pan-regional management hubs reporting into ViacomCBS Networks International CEO David Lynn.

Lynn, who was promoted to head international in early 2017 after former global boss Bob Bakish was tapped to lead Viacom, pointed out that consolidating international flagship brands into two groups “will simplify our structure and more closely align our business with ViacomCBS’ U.S. brands, enabling us to share more content and resources across our different brands and extract maximum value from our content investment and libraries.”

The restructure sees ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) divided into an entertainment and youth arm and a kids and family division. There is also a further three-way geographic restructuring, with a UK and Australia division that includes responsibility for Ireland, New Zealand and Israel; a Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia (EMEAA) hub; and an Americas branch.

Variety understands the move comes as ViacomCBS looks to mirror the U.S. model, which sees Brian Robbins overseeing kids and family, and Chris McCarthy managing entertainment and youth brands.

The restructure so far excludes CBS’s international operations, as the U.S. broadcaster does not have network brands in most of Viacom’s international markets. In the UK, CBS channels such as CBS Reality and CBS Justice operate under a JV between AMC Networks International-UK and CBS Studios International that will not be integrated into the Viacom portfolio, Variety understands.

As a result of the rejig, Mark Whitehead, president and managing director of VCNI Asia Pacific, is departing the business at the end of this month.

Under the restructure, Kerry Taylor has been promoted to exec VP of VCNI entertainment and youth brands. Taylor, who current serves as exec VP of MTV International and chief marketing officer for VCNI UK, reports into both Lynn and Chris McCarthy, president of entertainment and youth brands for ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks.

Her new remit will include international oversight of MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network and BET. She has been with MTV International since 2007 and has been co-head of MTV International since 2012, where she has been responsible for reinventing the brand’s global positioning and striking an international franchise strategy. She has overseen shows such as “Geordie Shore,” “The Charlotte Show,” “Ex On The Beach,” and “Just Tattoo Of Us”.

Taylor will continue to work closely with Bruce Gillmer, exec VP of music and talent programming and events for ViacomCBS. Jill Offman, who previously led Comedy Central and Paramount Network internationally, will run the international studio business as executive VP of ViacomCBS International Studios UK.

Elsewhere, Nickelodeon veteran Jules Borkent has been promoted to executive VP of VCNI Kids & Family, reporting to Lynn and Brian Robbins, president of kids and family entertainment for ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks.

Borkent has been with Nickelodeon since 2001, having led channel operations and content strategy including programming, acquisitions, originals and digital for Nickelodeon International.

Working in close alignment with Nickelodeon US, Borkent established the international programming council and manages a multi-million-dollar content investment across kids and family programming.

Lynn said: “Kerry and Jules are exceptional creative and strategic professionals. Kerry brings equal parts marketing acumen and a genuine connection to the global youth zeitgeist which has driven MTV’s successful international franchise strategy and ratings success. Jules is a respected industry voice, who’s dedicated to bringing unique and diverse content to Nickelodeon audiences around the world.”

In terms of the pan-regional hubs, former ITV Studios international president Maria Kyriacou, who joins the business in February, will serve as president of ViacomCBS Networks UK & Australia, which includes responsibility for Ireland, New Zealand and Israel.

With focused oversight of ViacomCBS’s operations in its two most valuable international markets, including its free-to-air broadcast networks, Channel 5 and Network 10, Kyriacou will seek content and commercial synergies between the company’s portfolio of networks and streaming services across these English-language markets.

Paul Anderson, who is CEO of CBS-owned commercial broadcaster Network 10, becomes exec VP of ViacomCBS Networks Australia and New Zealand with immediate effect, reporting to Kyriacou.

Elsewhere, Raffaele Annecchino will also take on an expanded role, with additional responsibility for the company’s operations in Northern and Eastern Europe and key Asian markets. As president of ViacomCBS Networks Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia (EMEAA), Annecchino – who is currently president of the division’s operations across Southern and Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa – will aim to deliver additional growth in European markets through the closer alignment of its operations across the continent as part of an EMEA structure.

Annecchino will focus on developing scale in the company’s EMEAA operations, in addition to overseeing VCNI’s mobile strategy.

Finally, JC Acosta is president of ViacomCBS Networks Americas, responsible for the company’s operations across Latin America, including the key markets of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico – as well as in Canada and the US Hispanic market.

Both Borkent and Acosta succeeded Pierluigi Gazzolo, who was previously president of VCNI Americas and exec VP of Nickelodeon International. Gazzolo, who was recently promoted to president of studios and OTT for VCNI, also reports into Lynn.

Lynn said: “ViacomCBS is truly a global leader in terms of the quality, volume and range of content we produce and own and we aim to exploit the incredible pipelines at our disposal to deliver exceptional growth across international markets, not just for ourselves but for our partners as well.

“With Maria joining and with newly expanded roles for Raffaele, JC, Pier, Kerry and Jules we have an exceptional leadership team in place and a simplified structure that allows us to be more tightly focused on seeking out the most attractive opportunities to license our brands, content and IP in the highest value and fastest growing international markets, with a particular focus on accelerating our streaming strategy.”

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