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Viacom reorganizes creative team in advance of CBS merger

Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Bob Bakish is streamlining his team by identifying key executives who will oversee the various TV networks after Viacom’s upcoming merger with CBS Corp.

The Viacom-CBS marriage is expected to be complete by mid-December. Three veteran programming executives — Showtime’s David Nevins, Nickelodeon’s Brian Robbins and MTV’s Chris McCarthy — are getting increased turf as part of this month’s management overhaul, according to two people familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly.

Viacom is expected to formally announce the moves on Monday.

McCarthy will gain a much bigger portfolio, becoming president of entertainment and youth brands. The New York based executive already runs Viacom’s legacy channels, MTV and VH1, and Logo and CMT. He will pick up responsibility for four additional networks: Comedy Central, TV Land, Paramount Network and the Smithsonian Channel, which currently is part of CBS.

Nevins has managed the premium channel, Showtime, for CBS since 2010 but his profile increased substantially after the exit of CBS’ longtime leader, Leslie Moonves. For nearly a year, Nevins, based in Los Angeles, has been chief creative officer for CBS with oversight of programming for the broadcast network. He will continue to oversee CBS network programming, Showtime and now, BET. Scott Mills will continue to provide day-to-day management at BET.

Robbins, who became president of Viacom’s Nickelodeon business in October 2018, takes over AwesomenessTV. It’s a homecoming for Robbins, who created AwesomenessTV in 2012 with longtime producing partner Joe Davola. The pair sold the once high-flying business to DreamWorks Animation in 2013, and Viacom claimed it last year. Robbins is based in Burbank and Hollywood.

As part of the moves, longtime Viacom executives Kent Alterman and Sarah Levy are leaving the company.

Alterman has been with Viacom for two decades and manages Comedy Central, TV Land and Paramount Network. Levy, a longtime Nickelodeon executive, has been chief operating officer of Viacom’s Media Networks group for about a year but that role is being phased out, one of the knowledgeable people said.

Last week, CBS announced a change in leadership at its internet division, CBS Interactive. As part of that switch, longtime head Jim Lanzone said he will step down next month and that Marc DeBevoise will become the CEO of CBS Interactive, which includes the CBS All Access streaming service. DeBevoise also will oversee Viacom’s digital initiatives, a consolidation that hints at the company’s greater ambitions in the streaming space.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the executive shuffle.

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