Amid a day of company-wide restructuring at ViacomCBS, Smithsonian Network president Tom Hayden will leaving his post at the end of May, Variety has learned. The reorganization — which includes layoffs of more than 100 employees primarily at MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Pop and Smithsonian — is part of the ongoing post-merger integration of Viacom and CBS that is designed to provide $750 million in synergies over three years. The layoffs are not related to the current coronavirus outbreak.

A wide range of divisions, from the programming and development executive suite at Comedy Central, as well as editorial staffers as MTV News, have been impacted. Comedy Central head of content and creative enterprises Sarah Babineau is also departing.

Hayden, who in 2007 launched the Smithsonian Channel — a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution — first joined Showtime Networks in 1989, and had previously served in various roles at the network. He will depart after helping to shepherd the transition at ViacomCBS.

Chris McCarthy, president of entertainment and youth brands at ViacomCBS domestic media networks, informed staff on Wednesday that the company had taken the “final step” to merge its four branded groups together, driven by the decision to shift “from cable to content” and move “from strong siloed brands to a powerful entertainment portfolio.”

Earlier in the day, ViacomCBS Bob Bakish had sent out an internal letter to staff, explaining that it was “critical that we continue these efforts to integrate and evolve ViacomCBS to remain competitive now and for the future.”

“This means continuing to integrate and streamline our operations, manage our costs as diligently as we can, and follow through on our committed post-merger synergy targets,” wrote Bakish.

McCarthy’s memo to staff can be read below:


By now I’m sure you’ve heard, today we took the final step to merge our four branded groups into one unified creative organization.

To that end, we made the extremely tough decision to part ways with staff members across our teams. These changes were driven by two factors:

Shifting from cable to content which is at the center of everything we do
Moving from strong siloed brands to a powerful entertainment portfolio

We didn’t come to these decisions quickly or easily, but rather after a thoughtful process over the past few months. This new structure will take advantage of our full scale and shared expertise. More to come on that in the next few days.

As much as these changes are necessary, I know they aren’t easy on anyone – they shouldn’t be. We aren’t just saying goodbye to work colleagues, but our friends and family.

Please join me in thanking those who are leaving and express our gratitude for their many contributions.

With appreciation,