Viacom president quits after feud with Redstone

The simmering tension at the top of Viacom, the American media giant that ownsMTV and CBS, has finally been relieved with news that Mel Karmazin, its president and chief operating officer since 2000, is to stand down.

The simmering tension at the top of Viacom, the American media giant that ownsMTV and CBS, has finally been relieved with news that Mel Karmazin, its president and chief operating officer since 2000, is to stand down.

The departure of Mr Karmazin, confirmed yesterday, will be received with mixed emotions on Wall Street, which has been concerned about his feuding with Viacom's chief executive and controlling shareholder, Sumner Redstone. There have been battles over advertising strategy, ailing radio units and Mr Karmazin's contract.

In an instant reshuffle, the company named the heads of MTV and CBS - Tom Freston and Leslie Moonves - as co-presidents of Viacom. They will also share the chief operating officer position. In addition, Mr Redstone, who is 80, vowed to step down within three years.

Mr Redstone also tried to quell speculation that he was grooming his daughter, 50-year-old Shari Redstone, to succeed him as the head of Viacom. "My daughter will not play any direct operational role in running Viacom," he said. "I do want her to know everything about Viacom, because some day that may become important."

Ms Redstone is set to inherit her father's controlling stake in Viacom and recently said she would from this autumn spend one-third of her time at Viacom.

Mr Karmazin issued a brief statement, citing "personal and professional reasons" for his departure.Under Mr Karmazin, CBS has been transformed into the most-watched US network in primetime. Its other units, including MTV and Nickelodeon, are among the most successful cable channels in the US.

Howard Stern, America's best-known shock-jock, said the reshuffle meant he was likely to be fired from Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting radio network. Mr Karmazin has long defendedhis right to exercise free speech.

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