MTV Wednesday said Stephen Friedman will step down as president of the youth-targeted network, and has appointed former Discovery Communications digital executive Sean Atkins as its new president.
In an intermal memo, Friedman said he is leaving MTV to focus full-time on projects with "social impact, and on applying what I’ve learned from MTV about the power of brands and storytelling to create positive change."
Viacom Music and Entertainment Group President Doug Herzog said in a separeate e-mail that that Friedman's replacement will be named tomorrow, adding that he personally directed the search for the new president. He added that Friedman actually gave notice in April but stayed on to help with the transition of bringing MTV and Logo into the new Music and Entertainment Group.
"I’m grateful for that, because his timing also gave me a beat to conduct a thorough, thoughtful search for the new President of MTV," Herzog said.
Friedman, who has served as MTV president since 2008, oversaw the launch of such series as Catfish: The TV Show, Teen Mom, Teen Wolf, Awkward and Girl Code. Friedman also oversaw MTV2 and Logo.
The network however, has struggled recently from a ratings perspective, falling 23% in primetime during the third quarter 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, according to Nielsen.
Herzog said in his memo that pro-social causes have always been Stephen’s passion. "From mtvU’s Darfur Is Dying to the provocative White People, social impact is a thread that runs through Stephen’s entire career with MTV. Under his leadership, MTV has launched multiple pro-social campaigns that have had real impact and earned the network Peabodys and Emmys alike."
Friedman’s departure follows the July departure of MTV president of programming Susanne Daniels, who left the company to take over original content duties for YouTube.
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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