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McCarthy replaces Atkins as MTV chief

Chris McCarthy has been installed as president of Viacom’s US cable network MTV, with incumbent Sean Atkins resigning after just over a year in the job.

Chris McCarthyMcCarthy’s star has been on the rise over the past 18 months, firstly being promoted to general manager of VH1 before becoming president of the channel and LGBT net Logo. He now expands the role to include flagship Viacom entertainment channel MTV.

His promotion came on the same day Atkins resigned from his role, having joined from Discovery Communications to replace the long serving Stephen Friedman in October last year.

Atkins assured staff in an internal note that they were “in very good hands” under McCarthy’s leadership. He will remain with Viacom as a consultant until January.

Atkins cited shows such as Made in Compton, Stranded with a Million Bucks and Going Off as recent programming successes as highlights of his tenure, and pointed to investments in MTV’s Snapchat Discover platform. However, ratings at MTV are down year-on-year in the core 12-34 demo.

At Discovery, he had been general manager and executive VP, digital media and strategy.

McCarthy, meanwhile, has worked in Viacom’s cable networks for a significant period. He began at mtvU before rising to GM of MTV2 in 2010, where he launched series such as Guy Code and Nick Cannon Present: Wild ‘N Out.

He led MTV2 and Logo to their highest-rated years in 2015, leading to his promotion to run VH1. The pop culture network then had its biggest year-on-year ratings growth in 15 fiscal years, and currently has three out the top five unscripted shows on US cable.

In the new post, he continues to report to Viacom Music and Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog, who said: “Chris has infused every brand he’s led with creativity, strategic clarity and distinctive talent driving results that defy this extraordinarily competitive landscape.

“MTV is an iconic brand full of opportunity, and Chris has demonstrated the vision and ability to grow its expansive reach and powerful cultural impact.”

McCarthy said it was a “transformative” for MTV, which has been widely criticised by commentators for losing parts of the millennial audience that once made it the most culturally significant network. Younger adult audiences have been migrating away from television to SVOD services such as Netflix and online video sites such as YouTube.

McCarthy’s appointment is the latest personnel change at MTV this year. Reality chief Lauren Dolgen exited in June, while Condé Nast Entertainment content chief Michael Klein joined the network as executive VP, original content.

MTV parent Viacom is currently nearing an agreement to re-merge with National Amusements sister CBS, with some reports suggesting a deal could be in place by early November.