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Herzog to Drive Spike

It’s official: Comedy Central president Doug Herzog will also head co-owned Spike TV as president of the network, reporting to MTV Networks Group president Herb Scannell while wearing his Spike hat and to MTV Networks chairman Judy McGrath for Comedy. The two networks under Herzog’s purview will now form a separate new unit within MTV Networks.

Herzog’s appointment comes in the wake of the resignation of Albie Hecht, president of Spike since January 2003, citing creative differences with MTV.

Herzog, who is based out of LA, said he did not foresee problems in managing two New York based networks. “I spend a lot of time on a plane begging for my family’s forgiveness,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle choice, but the world has grown small with blackberries, cell phones, e-mail, faxes and video-conferences. We’re available to each other far too much these days, I find.”

Nor is he concerned with the dual reporting structure. “I’ve known Herb for as long as I’ve known Judy,” he said. “There’s a lot of mutual respect. This is a long-standing group of incredible executives and it’s incredibly collegial and collaborative.”

Herzog returned to Comedy in 2004 after having worked at the network from July 1995 to November 1998 and helping to build that network’s initial brand.

In between stints at the network, he held positions as president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company and president of USA Network. Before Comedy, Herzog spent 11 years at MTV as executive vice president of programming for the network and president of MTV Productions.

Herzog said both Spike and Comedy, two newer networks in the MTV family, were “ill-fitted” in their former parent groups (Spike with Nickelodeon networks, Comedy with the MTV music channels) and envisions the new structure helping them to play off each other in attracting young male viewers. “They have their own little platform to stand on now that they’re bound at the hip,” he said.

Known for being a pro at programming, Herzog said he will look for both scripted and unscripted signature shows to serve as breakout brand-establishers for men’s network Spike, whose best-rated programs are currently WWE Wrestling and off-CBS CSI. In doing so, he said he will take a "less is more" strategy, investing in a select group of shows as he did at USA and Comedy.

“In this crowded landscape of billions of channels and a lot of white noise, I’m into making bigger noise with fewer things,” he said.

In terms of genres for those programs, however, Herzog said the field was wide open at Spike and that he would even consider sci-fi and music shows. “The great thing about Spike versus Comedy is that, at the end of the day, Spike has a broader canvas – 50% of the world needs to like it,” he said.

Prior to MTV, Herzog was a segment producer for Entertainment Tonight and an associate producer at TBS.

MTV Networks is a unit of Viacom.