Lights Out for Weiss at Fuse

Rob Weiss is out as head of entertainment at Fuse, the Cablevision-owned music network launched as a reincarnation of the Muchmusic cable network in May 2003.

No successor to the entertainment chief slot has been named, and Fuse does not comment on personnel matters, but the network is expected early in January to name former MTV, UK & Ireland General Manager Catherine Mullen to a new general manager role.

Weiss, who joined the network last spring after heading East Coast development at VH1, clashed with senior-level management throughout his time at Fuse, and he would have departed even if he had been given the general manager role, say executives close to the matter.

Weiss has been responsible for adding a slew of new programs to the network, which bills itself as an antidote to Viacom’s music monopoly MTV. From April 2004 to this past January, when he was head of programming, Weiss added five shows to Fuse’s lineup. After he became entertainment chief, he added at least 11 more shows, including Celebrity Tastemaker, which features stars talking about their music passions; rock-and-roll advice show Slave to the Metal; and this summer’s Ultimate Gig: The Fuse VJ Search.

Tiny Fuse averaged 27,000 viewers in prime during 2005 (through Dec. 11), down 4% from last year, but it broadened its programming slate significantly in January to embrace new formats including news and sports. It also inked a smattering of new distribution deals this fall, including a cellphone content deal with MobiTV and a distribution agreement with Comcast. The network also greenlighted several series with interactive features meant to target its core audience in the 18-34 demo.

Weiss, while at Fuse, said that with half the network’s schedule devoted to videos, Fuse had more music-video hours than any of the other music networks.

“It’s been my driving mission to figure out how to make sure Fuse maintains a music focus and celebrates videos while still remaining a viable channel,” Weiss told B&C earlier this year. “Fuse will never have more non-video shows than video shows. That’s what makes us distinctive.”

The network, one of Cablevision’s Rainbow Entertainment networks, reaches some 44 million subscribers. This fall, it was rumored Cablevision would sell the network. B&C reported Harvey and Bob Weinstein, of The Weinstein Company, were attempting to buy Fuse to transform it into a platform for their startup company’s movie and entertainment products. Cablevision is a backer of The Weinstein Company, and the brothers have long sought to own a cable network.