Say what you will about Viacom president and CEO Tom Freston, the guy can knock out a year-end company-wide e-mail like nobody's business. In this memo currently making the rounds, Freston effortlessly glides from cheerfully suggesting employees raise a New Year's Eve "glass for the birth of your new company, too," to putting a human face on their conveniently disposed of "corporate overhead," while all the while using his trademark laid back style to cut any of the self-congratulatory bitter aftertaste often associated with some of his colleagues' gushy outbursts:
Subject: A MESSAGE FROM TOM FRESTON
Subject: Happy Holidays
I want to be sure to send you my best wishes for the Holidays and
thank you for all your great and smart work this year.
2005 was a landmark year for the company. We made the momentous decision to split ourselves into two companies, Viacom and CBS, Inc.
With the digital revolution unfolding with great speed, we felt we
could be more focused, competitive, nimble and successful as two
separate, but distinct companies. All this will become a reality on
December 31. So, when you are out there on New Year's Eve, raise a
glass for the birth of your new company, too, and give yourself a
Getting all this done, let alone on time, was a Herculean task. And, while many lent a hand, the great burden was carried by Legal, Finance, IS, and HR. Thank you to all who devoted untold hours to this process.
Unfortunately, when such a significant change like this occurs, there
is a human cost as well. With the leaner requirements of our smaller organization, many of our talented colleagues and friends will be leaving the company. This includes people both in corporate
departments and at the divisions, too, both in U.S. and International areas. These are people who worked hard, stayed years, and made important contributions to our success. I know you will join me in thanking them and in wishing them the best in their future endeavors.
Along with this company restructuring, we still had a business to run and goals to meet. I am happy to report that our "new" Viacom had a record year. In fact, BET Networks, Famous Music, and MTV Networks all had a "best year ever" both creatively and financially. And Paramount Pictures, with its big management changes, began a wonderful turnaround story. There are too many details to cover but here are some highlights:
* BET turned 25 in fine style, hired Reggie Hudlin to head
programming, launched BET Mobile, and plan to start 2006 with a bang. Debra Lee and her team delivered record ratings, launched hit showsand series, and broke all ad sales records.
* Famous Music acquired Extreme Music, signed the budding superstar Shakira and forged closer relations with our other divisions. Irwin Robinson and his team really delivered.
* MTV Networks launched another 26 networks around the world (now 120!), went broadband and wireless almost everywhere, and set all kinds of new records for themselves. Judy McGrath and her team guided Nickelodeon to its 10th year as #1, took VH1, MTV, CMT, TV Land and Noggin to all time ratings highs, made Comedy Central a cultural centerpiece, and had a large bunch of hit TV shows and movies.Internationally, no one can touch them.
* Paramount Pictures, with new CEO Brad Grey and his team, guided some big hits into the marketplace like "War of the Worlds" and "The Longest Yard." And they capped off the year with a transforming deal to acquire Dreamworks that brings the incredible talents of David Geffen, Steven Spielberg, and Jeffrey Katzenberg into the Paramount family.
With all that success, I appreciate the sacrifices you make all year
to make it happen. A company like ours runs on the commitment of
thousands of talented people. It is a wonder to work with you all.
So, have a break this next week. Enjoy the slow pace or take the time off. But, by all means, take time with the ones you love and remember why you make those sacrifices all year long.
2006 will be with us shortly. Rest up.
- Previously: Trade Round-Up: MTV Gives Pinkslips For Christmas [Defamer]