Viacom announced this morning that the longtime CEO of MTV Networks, Judy McGrath, 58, has stepped down, and that her position will not be replaced.
"We will all miss Judy enormously, but we respect her decision and understand her desire to leave at the very top of the game," Viacom president and chief executive officer Philippe Dauman said in a statement. "The networks under her direction are rapidly expanding to new platforms and reaching new creative and ratings milestones, all under the able guidance of experienced and talented management teams. With a deep executive bench and our popular and growing stable of media network brands, we are confident that Viacom won't miss a beat and will flourish."
According to sources close to the matter, McGrath's contract at the network had not expired, and it was only today that she announced internally her decision to leave. Sources say that rather than filling McGrath's post as head of MTV Networks, the heads of the three main Viacom entertainment subdivisions—Doug Herzog, president, MTVN Entertainment Group; Van Toffler, president, MTVN Music & Logo Group; and Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and the MTVN Kids & Family Group—will start reporting directly to Dauman. Meanwhile, a raft of other subordinates will be moved out of the MTV Networks hierarchy and report to counterpart supervisors at Viacom, according to an internal memo from Dauman sent to Viacom staff earlier this morning.
McGrath rose through the ranks at MTV after joining the network at its founding in 1981. During her time there, she helped found the MTV Video Music Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, and shows like Punk'd. McGrath was the last key holdover from the days of former Viacom chief Tom Freston, who helped co-found MTV but was let go as head of Viacom and replaced by Dauman in 2006.
In the memo to Viacom staff, Dauman put McGrath's departure in the context of a broader shake-up, which will also put Rich Eigendorff, who oversees MTVN's ad sales, under the supervision of Tom Dooley, Viacom's COO. "Throughout her career, Judy has embodied the spirit of discovery and reinvention that has defined and fueled a great deal of our creative and business success," Dauman wrote to the Viacom staff. "There is no doubt that filling Judy’s Chuck Taylors will be a big task, but I am confident that working together with the talented team she leaves behind, we will get it done—with a lot of hard work and enthusiasm and a generous measure of grace and style. Just the way Judy always did it."