Judy McGrath to Step Down as MTV Networks Chairman and CEO

7:35 AM PST 05/05/2011 by Georg Szalai, Lindsay Powers
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Scott Gries/Getty Images

The company has no plans to replace her, division heads will now report directly to Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman.

MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath will step down, Viacom announced Thursday.

 "The people of MTV Networks have always been singularly important to me.  Together we have built world-class brands that connect with fans from kid to adulthood, from SpongeBob to Hot In Cleveland, from Unplugged to The Daily Show.  We have attracted and nurtured the best talent in the world, and I know that will always be a hallmark of the company," she says in a statement. "Creatively, financially, all the brands and businesses are in wonderful shape today.  I leave with pride, joy and gratitude for the ride of a lifetime. I especially thank my friends and colleagues on the senior team, who will continue to lead a kick-ass organization.  They have my respect and affection, always."

McGrath has been with the company since 1981, when she started as a copy writer. She was named chairman and CEO of MTV Networks in 2004.

She won't be replaced. Doug Herzog, President, MTVN Entertainment Group; Van Toffler, President, MTVN Music & Logo Group; and Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon & MTVN Kids & Family Group, will now report directly to Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman.

McGrath is leaving at a time when MTV Networks is flying high in terms of ratings and financial performance thanks to such hit shows as Jersey Shore and Teen Mom on MTV and Tosh.0 on Comedy Central.

The networks group has also recently focused on boosting ratings at VH1 and Spike TV.

Dauman says in a statement, "Judy has long been the creative heart and inspiring soul of MTV Networks and has deservedly been associated with so much of the great entertainment, cultural relevance, social significance and business success that have defined our media networks over the years.  Her positive and passionate spirit has helped create an organization that is recognized for truly listening to its audiences, not only about their entertainment choices, but also about the social issues and the causes that matter to them most.

"We will all miss Judy enormously, but we respect her decision and understand her desire to leave at the very top of the game with a legacy of success that stretches from the earliest days of cable television to current season highlights.  The networks under her direction are rapidly expanding to new platforms and reaching new creative and ratings milestones, all under the able guidance of experienced and talented management teams.  With a deep executive bench and our popular and growing stable of media network brands, we are confident that Viacom won't miss a beat and will flourish."

Jason Hirschhorn, the former chief digital officer of MTV Networks and former co-president of MySpace who is currently a board member of MGM, sent several tweets about McGrath on Thursday.

About McGrath’s possible future, Hirschhorn wrote: “Judy McGrath's next chapter will be interesting. She isn't done. Not nearly. I'm buying tickets for the sequel. Rupert  [Murdoch] should call her!”

Read Dauman's memo to staff on page 2.

Lindsay.Powers@Thr.com

Twitter: @LKPE

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