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MTV World Among Cutbacks

MTV Networks’ week of job cuts continued Wednesday and included the imminent shutdown of the MTV World three-channel digital suite.

People at the Viacom-owned programming stable said the cuts -- of an estimated 250 jobs all told -- and the nature of their being staggered over several days has made it challenging to get work done at the company’s Times Square headquarters. But announcements of some hires and promotions are expected to come later, softening the blow a bit.

In addition to names reported Tuesday, three senior affiliate-sales and marketing executives left: executive vice presidents Jessica Heacock and Sandy Ashendorf and senior VP Susan Keith.

They were the top remaining executives in that department other than Denise Dahldorf who, asMultichannel Newsreported first, was promoted to executive VP, succeeding former distribution president Nicole Browning.

At the same time that Browning left last month, executive VP Peter Low also left, as did MTVN chief operating officer Michael Wolf.

Heacock -- a marketer who is also chairman of Women in Cable & Telecommunications -- had been a candidate to succeed Browning and apparently resigned after not getting the job, people close to the company said.

The affiliate sales cuts extended beyond the programmer’s headquarters at 1515 Broadway: People close to the company said most affiliate staffers in MTVN’s West Coast and Chicago regional offices were let go, although those offices were not shut down.

David Sussman, the MTVN general counsel and an executive VP, also was among the high-ranking cuts at 1515 Broadway this week. People close to the company said his job will be shared by two current executives: Andra Shapiro and George Cheeks.

Several high-titled executives saw their departures reported on Jossip, including executive VP of programming Paul DeBenedittis and senior VP of production Salli Frattini. Kathy Flynn, the senior VP who handled event productions, was also let go, Jossip reported and people close to the process confirmed.

The fate of MTV2 general manager David Cohn remained unclear -- people at the company said he was considering the offer of another position -- but staff cuts were deep at MTV2 and at VH1 Classic, whose general manager, Eric Sherman, was caught up in the cuts.

Those channels and mtvU, the nascent college-campus programming service, are said to be safe.

Not so MTV World, which has three channels (MTV Desi, MTV Chi and MTV K) targeted toward young Asian Americans and carried on DirecTV.

MTVN confirmed yesterday that those channels are being shut down. The company said in a prepared statement: “Unfortunately, the premium distribution model for MTV World proved more challenging than we anticipated in this competitive environment. As a result, MTV has decided to shut down its linear MTV World operation. However, we remain steadfast in superserving multicultural youth, and we are continuing to investigate ways to integrate the MTV Desi, Chi and K brands online and on our other screens.”

The first of the channels, MTV Desi, aimed at people who came to the United States from the Indian subcontinent, launched in mid-2005.

Nusrat Durrani, the MTV World GM, was said to be considering another job within the company.

Further changes are expected to come as the week continues. An advertising-sales reorganization, for example, is said to be in the works.

MTVN adamantly denied rumors that MTV show TRL (for Total Request Live) was being shut down.

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.