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CSI Files

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Viacom President Karmazin Resigns

By Michelle
June 1, 2004 - 3:13 PM

Viacom president and chief operating officer Mel Karmazin resigned his position this morning, to be succeeded by Leslie Moonves and Tom Freston, who will serve as co-presidents of the media giant.

The New York Times reported that Karmazin was leaving "for personal and professional reasons", quoting him as saying, "After more than 20 years with the company, for personal and professional reasons, I have decided to leave Viacom and pursue other challenges."

The newspaper reported that Karmazin did not get along with the daughter of Sumner Redstone, the chief executive officer of Viacom, Inc., who has taken on a larger role in the company.

Moonves, currently the chairman and CEO of CBS, and Freston, currently the chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, are now poised to take over from Redstone, who is currently 81 years and and has stated his intent to step down from that role within three years.

Reuters noted (via Yahoo!) that because of their accomplishments in the broadcast and cable network divisions of the corporation, Freston and Moonves "are the two leading candidates to be the next CEO of Viacom", as Redstone said on the Viacom company web site.

As the head of CBS, Moonves predicted at the upfront presentations in New York last month that CSI: New York would be the most-watched scripted television show of the fall season, and said that he would put his own money behind the series, according to CNN.

Another Reuters story (via Yahoo!) reported that Viacom shares fell during early stock market trading this morning in the wake of the announcement.

The Associated Press stated that Karmazin was highly regarded in the industry for his leadership, having risen to the head of CBS before it merged with Viacom in 2000.

The same article quoted Redstone as saying Karmazin left because of troubles with the corporation's radio division, which Viacom might consider selling.

Karmazin worked in radio for much of his career, and is close radio personalities Howard Stern and Don Imus, the latter of whom broke the news that the exec would step down.

"We very much regret Mel's decision to resign and we wish him well," Redstone said in the Viacom statement. He added that he was looking forward to working with Freston and Moonves.

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