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Reality TV: THR's 50 Most Powerful List

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    Cecile Frot-Coutaz
    Cecile Frot-Coutaz
    CEO, FremantleMedia

    After two decades in the business shepherding such shows as American Idol, The X Factor and America’s Got Talent from novelty act to ratings tour de force, reality TV’s most powerful woman is telling a more somber tale.

    PHOTOS: THR's 2012 Reality Power List

    “The numbers are not what they used to be,” says the 46-year-old France native and mother of two. “Viewers are going elsewhere; they’re on DVR, online and going to cable. The environment is much tougher than it was 10 years ago or even four years ago. As suppliers, that puts increased pressure on all of us.”

    Frot-Coutaz, of course, can handle it, which is one reason why she recently was promoted from CEO of FremantleMedia North America to become the worldwide company chief based in London — stepping in for Tony Cohen, who had run the production and distribution giant for 17 years.

    COMPLETE LIST: THR's 2012 Reality Power List

    “I am excited by the challenges, but at the same time, it’s bittersweet,” she confesses. “I joined the company one month after Tony, and it’s hard to imagine doing my job without him being around.”

    To that end, it’s hard to envision Fremantle without Frot-Coutaz, whose latest triumph almost trumps them all: Getting Howard Stern to sign on as a judge for NBC’s America’s Got Talent, a choice she says was a no-brainer. Adds Frot-Coutaz matter-of-factly, “People are fickle and expect change.”

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