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Karmazin Resigns From Viacom; Redstone to Leave in 3 Years; Moonves Gets Infinity Oversight

Karmazin Resigns From Viacom; Redstone to Leave in 3 Years; Moonves Gets Infinity Oversight

Mel Karmazin has resigned as president and chief operating officer of Viacom Corp.
In a statement, Karmazin said, “After more than 20 years with the company, for personal and professional reasons, I have decided to leave Viacom and pursue other challenges. Viacom is performing exceptionally well with leadership positions in all of its businesses. The company’s very talented management team will ensure its continued success.”
The company’s board also announced a corporate succession plan and said that chairman and chief executive officer Sumner Redstone, Viacom’s largest shareholder, has indicated the 80-year-old will leave the CEO role within three years.
The company has decided to split Karmazin’s job between Tom Freston, chairman and chief executive officer of Viacom’s MTV Networks unit and Leslie Moonves, chairman and chief executive officer of CBS.
In addition to overseeing Viacom’s television businesses, Moonves will oversee Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom outdoor and Paramount TV.
In addition to MTV, Freston will now oversee the operation of Showtime, BET, Paramount Parks, Simon & Schuster and the motion picture operations of Paramount Pictures.
The appointments are part of a corporate succession plan. The company’s corporate staff reports to Redstone, who will work with the board to identify his successor and designate candidates for other senior positions within the company.
Of Karmazin, Redstone stated: “We very much regret Mel’s decision to resign and we wish him well. He has been instrumental in Viacom’s operating success since our merger with CBS and he leaves with an extraordinary track record of accomplishment.”
Karmazin will say on as a consultant for two months to ease the transition of Moonves and Freston.
Karmazin and Redstone reportedly clashed in recent years, with contentious contract negotiations for Karmazin leaking into the media a year ago. Karmazin received a contract extension through 2006, but the pact reportedly rescinded some authority originally granted to him when Viacom bought CBS in 2000.