Viacom Names Station Ops Exec

Viacom is elevating Anton Guitano, chief financial officer for its TV stations division, to be executive VP of operations and CFO. Guitano takes over for former executive VP/COO Dennis Swanson, who defected last month to be president of the Fox Television Stations group.

Guitano, a 27-year CBS veteran, will now oversee operations for the 40 Viacom Television Station Group outlets, which includes 21 CBS stations and 16 UPNs. He will report to Viacom stations President/CEO Tom Kane. Mike Wittman, most recently VP and controller for the group, is being promoted to VP of finance.

As CFO, Guitano “has provided excellent counsel and strategy, helping maximize resources and revenues through good and challenging economies alike,” Kane said in a statement. “He knows what it takes to win in the markets we serve and, more importantly, knows how to do it most efficiently. Together, we offer complementary backgrounds in finance and operations, and I’m confident we’ll make an effective executive team.”

With the appointment, Kane, who took his post in October, has filled another key executive position left vacant by Swanson’s departure. On Wednesday, Kane tapped former Viacom sales president and former KYW Philadelphia chief Peter Dunn to be the new president/GM for WCBS. He replaces Lew Leone, who is now running Fox-owned WNYW and WWOR New York.

Guitano’s appointment is key as Viacom is planning to split into two companies later this year.   The stations, which will be part of CBS Corp., will be a key contributor to the company’s bottom line. Guitano says finding new ways to generate revenue will be one of his prime objectives. “We have to overcome the even-odd [election year] issues that we have,” he said. Local business development and building out the Internet, he says, will help create new revenue sources. Of course, ratings success is tantamount. “We’ve got a wonderful network that gives us great ratings in prime, we want to continue to see growth in early and late news,” Guitano added.

Where Swanson’s background was in the newsroom, as a reporter, producer and news director, and later as a station general manager, Guitano is a career finance executive. Prior to becoming CFO, he was senior VP of finance for the station group and also previously service as VP and general auditor for CBS Inc., among other earlier finance posts at CBS.

In his new role, Guitano will become more active in news and programming. He is already planning visits to the local markets to collaborate with the general managers.  “I will be in the field trying to help them resolve issues, with an eye to the operational side and my financial background. We can look at programming acquisitions and news from that perspective,” he said.