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International: Viacom creates new marketing unit

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International: Viacom creates new marketing unit

Viacom co-president and CBS chairman Leslie Moonves has announced the creation of a new marketing group and named CBS marketing chief George Schweitzer its president.

The new unit will serve CBS, UPN, King World, Paramount Television, Infinity Broadcasting and Viacom Outdoor. A statement released yesterday said the new marketing group will be responsible for sales promotion, affiliate promotion and network creative services and special events including the ad-selling "upfront" presentations.

Mr. Schweitzer had been executive vice president for marketing and communications since 1994 and was responsible for marketing at the two broadcast networks.

'CSI' and Infinity Radio

Mr. Schweitzer said the group would work with King World, which syndicates shows such as CSI, and work more closely with Infinity Radio to support those products with additional company resources. "We're also involved in a lot of Viacom Outdoor presentations," Mr. Schweitzer said, noting that CBS remained the priority among all the new entities.

Two other executives were promoted as a result of the changes. Ron Scalera and Anne O'Grady were named executive vice presidents at the new unit. Mr. Scalera had been responsible for the creative output of TV networks CBS and UPN while Ms. O'Grady was responsible for creating and executing marketing plans. Mr. Schweitzer said the group was heavily involved in co-ordinating and crafting advertiser-focused initiatives such as General Motors Corp.'s link with CBS reality show Survivor.

New show launches

The marketing unit is currently working on a number of January program launches on CBS, such as the drama Numb3rs, about a mathematics genius who helps the FBI solve crimes, and a reality show called Wickedly Perfect, which will take over the Survivor time slot on Thursdays. The premise involves a competition to find the ultimate home maker and host. The Will is another reality show in which participants compete for a portion of an estate offered up by a relative. At UPN, the marketing team is working with cable sibling VH1 in guerilla-marketing efforts with nightclubs and the music industry to promote The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott.

Mr. Moonves, who was appointed co-president six months ago, has moved swiftly to place his core team of CBS executives in key positions across his half of the Viacom empire. (The other half is ruled by Tom Freston, who is in charge of Viacom's cable divisions such as MTV, Showtime and BET, plus Paramount Pictures, Paramount Parks and publisher Simon & Schuster.)

In September Mr. Moonves named Nancy Tellem president of the newly formed CBS Paramount Network Television. She had previously been president of CBS Entertainment. In November he named Gil Schwartz to an expanded role as executive vice president of CBS Communications Group, which now encompasses Paramount Television, Infinity Broadcasting and Viacom Outdoor in addition to the network.



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