ViacomCBS appoints NBCUniversal’s George Cheeks as CBS president

LR: Joe Ianniello & George Cheeks

ViacomCBS has appointed NBCUniversal (NBCU) Content Studios’ vice-chairman George Cheeks as president and CEO of CBS.

Similar to his predecessor Joe Ianniello – who, the company notes, will “work with the company to ensure a smooth transition” – Cheeks will oversee all CBS-branded assets ranging from CBS Television Network to CBS Sports.

He will also work alongside ViacomCBS’ digital organisation on CBS-branded digital assets including SVOD service CBS All Access.

The appointment marks a return to the Viacom fold for Cheeks, who joined NBC in 2012 having previously exec served as EVP of business affairs and general counsel for Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, while simultaneously working as head of standards and practices for Viacom Media.

He reports into ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish, who said Cheeks had “broad experience in broadcast and studio operations and brings a unique mix of skills – combining deep commercial expertise and industry relationships with strong creative and programming capabilities.”

Bob Bakish

Bakish added: “With his finger on the pulse of culture and change and his strong grasp of strategy, brands, audiences and content monetisation, George will help CBS build on its position as the most-watched broadcast network and drive results across the entire CBS portfolio.”

Cheeks said he wanted to “find new and innovative ways to deliver CBS to audiences worldwide.”

The exec replaces Ianniello, who was made the permanent CEO and chairman of CBS in August. This followed a period where Ianniello served as the interim CEO and chairman of the broadcaster. In September 2018, Ianniello replaced disgraced former CEO Leslie Moonves following multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault.

While in interim charge, Ianniello’s contract detailed that he was eligible for a $70m payment were he not named the permanent CEO of CBS.

Prior to his interim role, Ianniello served as COO for five years, overseeing the launch of CBS All Access and Showtime’s OTT offer. He also led CBS’s acquisition of Network 10 in Australia and the split-off of CBS Radio through a merger with Entercom.

Bakish said: “I’m grateful to Joe for his many contributions to CBS and for the meaningful role he has played in bringing the CBS and Viacom teams together. Thanks in no small part to his efforts, the CBS brand has a strong and loyal following across a variety of platforms – positioning it well for this important next chapter. The board and I wish Joe every success in his future endeavors.”

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