McGrath Steps Down After 30 Years at Viacom

Judy McGrath, longtime chair of Viacom’s MTV Networks, officially resigned today (May 5).

“The people of MTV Networks have always been singularly important to me. Together we have built world-class brands that connect with fans from kid to adulthood, from SpongeBob to Hot In Cleveland, from Unplugged to The Daily Show. We have attracted and nurtured the best talent in the world, and I know that will always be a hallmark of the company. Creatively, financially, all the brands and businesses are in wonderful shape today. I leave with pride, joy and gratitude for the ride of a lifetime,” said McGrath in a statement.

No successor will be named, with Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauman planning to oversee her divisions. That means Doug Herzog, president of MTVN Entertainment Group; Van Toffler, president of MTVN Music and Logo Group; and Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon & MTVN Kids & Family Group all will report directly to Dauman.

“Judy has long been the creative heart and inspiring soul of MTV Networks and has deservedly been associated with so much of the great entertainment, cultural relevance, social significance and business success that have defined our media networks over the years,” said Dauman in a statement. “Her positive and passionate spirit has helped create an organization that is recognized for truly listening to its audiences, not only about their entertainment choices, but also about the social issues and the causes that matter to them most. We will all miss Judy enormously, but we respect her decision and understand her desire to leave at the very top of the game with a legacy of success that stretches from the earliest days of cable television to current season highlights.”

Other changes are being made in Viacom’s corporate structure, Dauman tells employees in his letter about McGrath. Rich Eigendorff, COO of MTVN, will report to Viacom COO Tom Dooley. Carole Robinson, EVP and chief of staff at MTVN, now will report to Eigendorff. MTVN CFO Jacques Totoroli will report to Viacom CFO Jimmy Barge. MTVN’s Co-General Counsel Andra Shapiro and George Cheeks now will report to Viacom General Counsel Mike Fricklas. Catherine Houser, EVP of MTVN Human Resources, will report to Denise White, EVP of Viacom Human Resources. Marva Smalls will remain EVP of public affairs and chief of staff for the Nickelodeon & MTV Kids and Family Group, reporting to Zarghami. Small’s duties as EVP of Global Inclusion also will broadened to include all of Viacom on diversity issues.

McGrath had worked at Viacom since 1981, almost her entire career. She started as a copywriter and worked her way up until she was named chairman and CEO of MTV Networks in July 2004. At the time, she worked for Viacom Co-President Tom Freston, who was fired in 2006 after Viacom failed to achieve expected growth. Since then, rumors persisted that she would leave, notes Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.