2:15pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Layoffs Hit CMT as Marketing Among Groups Integrated Under Chris McCarthy's Team
CMT is the latest Viacom network to clean house.
MTV, VH1, Logo and CMT president Chris McCarthy is consolidating a number of groups at the niche cable network, with multiple people — including chief marketing officer Anthony Barton — being laid off.
CMT's marketing, music, scheduling, communication, music and events teams will be fully integrated into McCarthy's Music Group, which also includes MTV, VH1 and Logo. A number of employees are being let go. Sources say the majority of layoffs will be in the marketing group. Current MTV, VH1 and Logo CMO Jacqueline Parks (who also oversees the recently launched Viacom Digital Studios) will now add CMT to her purview. Some employees will be relocating to Viacom's New York headquarters, and others will remain in Nashville as McCarthy sees the greatest opportunity to grow the country music-focused network in the region where its hub has been for nearly two decades. The moves were announced Wednesday via an internal memo from McCarthy.
The consolidation comes as little surprise as Viacom continues to centralize its operations under CEO Bob Bakish's larger plan to rejuvenate the media behemoth. Bakish's original plan was to focus on five key brands: MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, BET and Nickelodeon. That was reduced in October when Paramount Network president Kevin Kay was pushed out and Comedy Central topper Kent Alterman added oversight of the former Spike TV to his purview. The four centralized brand groups now are: Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land in one, overseen by Alterman; MTV, VH1, Logo and CMT (overseen by McCarthy, who added the latter in October); BET Networks the third; and Nickelodeon as the fourth.
CMT has been without a specific network president since June 2017, when Brian Philips was pushed out following a 16-year run with the network. TV Land GM Frank Tanki added oversight of the cable network after Philips departed. It's unclear what role Tanki still has with Viacom as he no longer is with CMT.
The move to centralize departments arrives as McCarthy did the same when the then-VH1 president added oversight of MTV to his purview. He has since centralized scripted, marketing and other departments among MTV, VH1 and Logo. Doing so with CMT was considered a foregone conclusion.
McCarthy's memo to staff is below.