ViacomCBS Names George Cheeks as President, CEO of CBS Entertainment

ViacomCBS says former NBCUniversal executive George Cheeks will take over as president and CEO of CBS Entertainment as of March 23, replacing Joe Ianniello.
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Entertainment giant ViacomCBS (VIACA) - Get Report said Friday that former NBCUniversal executive George Cheeks will take over as president and CEO of CBS Entertainment as of March 23, replacing CBS veteran Joe Ianniello, who is leaving after 22 years with the company.

Shares of ViacomCBS were off slightly to $34.04 in trading Friday.

Cheeks was most recently vice chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios, the New York-based company said in a statement.

Among other duties, Cheeks will lead CBS Television Network, which includes CBS Entertainment, CBS News and CBS Sports, CBS Television Studios and CBS Television Stations and CBS’ first-run syndication business.

Cheeks, who will report to Bob Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS, also will work with the ViacomCBS digital organization on the CBS-branded digital assets, including CBS All Access.

Ianniello will work with the company "to ensure a smooth transition," the statement said. The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Ianniello was being recruited by private-equity firm Platinum Equity to lead a bid for Spanish-language TV company, Univision Communications.

Ianniello, who was under contract through March 4, 2021, could receive a severance package worth as much as $100 million, according to Variety, which also said several employees have left the merged company and "hundreds more at several units will lose their jobs in the next three months."

CBS and Viacom in August announced their blockbuster $28 billion all-stock deal. The merger combines Viacom properties such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and the Paramount film and TV studio with CBS's broadcast network and Showtime premium network. The transaction closed in December.