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Viacom Taps New Station Chief

Viacom stations veteran Peter Dunn is the new president and general manager of the company’s flagship New York TV station, WCBS. Most recently, Dunn was president of sales for the Viacom Television Stations Group, which includes 21 CBS stations, 16 UPN outlets, one WB affiliate and two independents.

Dunn takes over for former station chief Lew Leone, who defected last month to run Fox-owned WNYW and WWOR.

Dunn is an experienced station operator and New York-area native. Prior to his Viacom sales post, he was president/GM for Viacom’s Philadelphia duopoly, KYW and WPSG. He had previously been executive VP of sales for the NBC Television Stations group and held several ad positions at WNBC New York, including national sales manager. He was recruited to Viacom by his old WNBC boss Dennis Swanson, then the executive VP and COO for the Viacom stations. Swanson recently jumped to be president of the Fox Television Stations.

Dunn’s appointment is the first executive move by new Viacom stations chief Tom Kane.

"Peter is a superb station operator and sales executive, and this promotion is the natural progression for someone of his talent and skill," Kane said in a statement. “Peter's experience in running two Top 5 market stations as well as several high-profile sales divisions makes him uniquely qualified to head WCBS-TV, not to mention the deep roots he has in the New York community. I am confident he will do an excellent job running our flagship station, and I look forward to working with him as we continue its growth.”

When the WCBS job opened up, Dunn says he lobbied Kane for the spot. “I have always wanted to be a general manager at a New York station,” Dunn told B&C.

Dunn faces a difficult task. WCBS, as well as the other Viacom-owned CBS stations, has overhauled its news as it tries to take on stronger rivals WNBC and WABC. Dunn says he is “going to stay with the momentum they have going.” The challenge, he says, “is about improving your status and improving year to year. That was my goal in Philadelphia and it will be in New York.”