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Michael Wolf is leaving Viacom’s MTV Networks a little more than a year after he was recruited from McKinsey to help ease the media group’s transition to the digital age.
Mr Wolf, MTV Networks president and chief operating officer, is the second high-ranking Viacom executive to leave in as many days. On Wednesday, the company disclosed that Gail Berman had resigned as president of its Paramount film studio 18 months after she was lured from the Fox television network.
Mr Wolf’s departure had been a subject of speculation since Sumner Redstone, Viacom’s chairman and controlling shareholder, ousted Tom Freston in September from his post as chief executive and replaced him with board member Philippe Dauman.
Mr Freston, one of the MTV founders, was blamed for the company’s failure to acquire MySpace, the popular social networking site, and the perception that the cable group was being eclipsed by a new generation of youth-oriented media companies.
In an interview on Thursday, Mr Wolf said there was a “gap in perception” in the market about Viacom’s internet activities. “We’ve been able to accomplish a huge amount in the 15 months I’ve been here,” he said.
During his tenure, Viacom acquired a slew of internet gaming and film startups, including Xfire and Atom Entertainment. He also oversaw a groundbreaking deal with Google last August in which MTV agreed to distribute its content on to weblogs and smaller websites affiliated with the internet company’s advertising network.
Judy McGrath, chief executive of MTV Networks, which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike, Comedy Central and other networks, praised Mr Wolf for bringing digital expertise to the company’s sales efforts and expanding the distribution of its programmes to new platforms, such as mobile phones and the internet.
“Michael completed a strong and actionable long-range plan, and brought some of our best and brightest minds in to the company,” Ms McGrath said.
Mr Wolf would not disclose his future plans, although he said that he expected to return to an operating role in the media industry as opposed to consulting.