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Take Five: Roger King

CBS Corp. last week announced the long-anticipated formation of the CBS Television Distribution Group, a new entity combining CBS Paramount Domestic Television, King World and CBS Paramount International Television.

Former King World CEO Roger King takes over as CEO, Robert Madden and John Nogawski each become president/COO, and Armando Nunez Jr. continues as president of CBS Paramount International Television.

Madden will head up operations for administration, finance, legal, communications and consumer products. Nogawski will oversee syndication and ad sales, as well as marketing, research and new media. They and Nunez report to King.

Madden has been COO of CBS Enterprises since January 2004, overseeing King World Productions and CBS Consumer Products. Nogawski has been president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television since March 2002, heading up distribution. Nunez has been in his role since August 2004.

CBS Paramount Worldwide Television President Joel Berman is leaving the company as part of the restructuring, as is Greg Meidel, president of programming for CBS Paramount Domestic Television.

Terry Wood, who became president of creative affairs and development for CBS Paramount Domestic Television and King World last year, will stay in that role and report to Madden and Nogawski. She will run current programming and head development.

Steve LoCascio, who has served as executive VP/chief financial officer for CBS Enterprises, takes over as executive VP/CFO for the CBS Television Distribution Group.

On the heels of the announcement, King spoke with B&C's Ben Grossman about the growth opportunities, the biggest challenges and the strategies of the new organization.

What is the biggest upside of this move?

The bottom line is, we are taking two companies and putting them together to form a bigger and better company. And it will present more opportunities for everybody here. This is my opportunity, and that's it. I've been in the business a long time, and I am happy for the chance to see these kids go up.

That sounds like a retirement speech.

It's not a retirement whatsoever. What, are you kidding me? I plan on working very hard to shape this up and make it streamlined.

What are the biggest challenges of the new company?

The challenges are, we have a lot of people working for us and a lot of shows underneath us. The challenge is to make this a streamlined, big company so we don't trip over each other and we know what the right hand and the left hand are doing. This company can get bigger and stronger and be a better supplier of content to our clients. This is not an easy job; we have a very eclectic mix of shows.

Are you concerned the company is too big?

No, this is America, man! There is nothing too big in television. Look at CBS: Years ago, it was a smaller company, and then Westinghouse got involved, and now look what we are doing. It's not too big. Who knows what my competition will say? And I don't care. They don't set the watermark, anyhow.

What other concerns do you have as a result of the move?

I don't see any concerns. I hope too many people don't get hurt in terms of what they are going to do for the rest of their lives. Some people will be going, and others will get promoted; it's just the nature of the business. Other than that, there is not a lot of downside.

So are you going to have to cut a lot of staff?

There will be some tuning, absolutely. We have two of everything. Some [positions] will be expanded, and some will be trimmed.

How much will this move save in overhead and efficiencies?

I can't say how much now, but I can tell you this will save money. This will be a more efficient, streamlined company.

How can the new company grow?

New media, first and foremost. And there are plenty of time periods available; it's not just the top 10. Television needs more hits, that's all it is. Especially in new media and the cable business, there are a lot of opportunities.

With the effort it will take to make the transition, do you have the bandwidth to aggressively go after new projects right now?

Well, we have two brand-new shows going to NATPE. Some salesmen see the glass half full, and some see it half empty. I see it half full, and I think we have a good opportunity to continue to grow.

Now that the announcement has been made, what is the first task?

Go on to develop this company. We've had conference calls to let the people that work here understand what's going on so nobody will put rumors out there. Now we are going to try and make this company happy and work. Time to go back to work, everyone.