ViacomCBS Inc. named former NBCUniversal executive George Cheeks to lead CBS’s broadcasting properties, succeeding former CBS Chief Executive Officer Joe Ianniello.
Cheeks will serve as president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group, where he’ll oversee the broadcaster’s news, sports, syndication and studio businesses. Previously, Cheeks had helped run the television studio at Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal and had been co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, where he was responsible for its prime-time, late-night and scripted daytime shows.
Ianniello, a 22-year veteran of CBS, was due for a hefty payout when Viacom completed its merger with CBS. He agreed to that in exchange for supporting the deal without having a shot at the top job, which ultimately went to Bob Bakish.
Ianniello, a protege of former CBS chief Les Moonves, was elevated to acting CEO after Moonves’s departure as the board began searching for someone to fill the job permanently.
Directors struggled to find a replacement, and the search was suspended as CBS debated a merger with Viacom. Ianniello had helped Moonves in his attempt to dilute the Redstone family’s control of CBS, hurting his standing with Shari Redstone, who is now chairwoman of the combined company.