Cozen Exits KDKA

Gary Cozen, vice president and general manager of Viacom Inc.'s KDKA Pittsburgh (CBS) and co-owned WNPA (UPN), has resigned after 11 years with the station.

The decision was characterized as "mutual."Until a successor can be found, department heads will report to Viacom station group chief Fred Reynolds and second-in-command Dennis Swanson. That tandem has been installing new GM's and other top station executives throughout the group since Swanson came on board in July 2002. While KDKA continues to lead the market, there is pressure to grow the business in a market that has been shrinking.

"It is with mixed emotions that I announce that I am stepping down" after 11 years," said Cozen in a memo to staffers, "In that time, we have successfully carried on KDKA's long tradition of journalism and programming excellence, as well as maintained our dominant position as the undisputed market leader."

That success was balanced with some rough times as well. Most notably the revelation back in November 2001 that the station had speeded up a football game to insert extra commercials.

The Cozen announcement couldn't have come at a tougher time for station spokespeople, who were busy fielding calls from DISH network viewers who lost KDKA when Viacom and EchoStar failed to come to a carriage deal. The station is airing spots on WNPA, still being carried on DISH, telling viewers to contact EchoStar and point out they had paid for the programming--CBS stations and Viacom cable nets--they were no longer getting. According to viewer reports to KDKA, spots from Charlie Ergen on DISH were telling viewers to call Cozen and complain.

EchoStar was required to remove 16 CBS stations and various cable nets after a temporary injunction expired March 8.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.