MTV names Stephen Friedman as its new president


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Veteran MTV executive Stephen K. Friedman was promoted Wednesday to president of the influential youth-orientated cable network.

Friedman, 41, has served as MTV’s general manager since 2008, running the day-to-day operations and becoming a key player in the reversal of the channel’s prolonged ratings slide. For more than a year, MTV has been on the march with such popular shows as ‘Jersey Shore,’ ‘Teen Mom’ and ’16 and Pregnant.’ Friedman will continue to report to Van Toffler, who is president of the MTV Networks Music and Logo Group.


‘Since Stephen took over the helm at MTV 2 1/2 years ago, he has done an incredible job helping spearhead the reinvention of the MTV brand for millennials,’ Toffler said in a statement announcing his lieutenant’s new assignment.

Viacom Inc.’s MTV also has experienced some of its best ratings in years for its signature award shows, including the ‘Video Music Awards’ and the ‘MTV Movie Awards.’ The ratings spikes reflect how Internet buzz can help expand audiences for TV shows, and how audacious and culturally relevant TV shows can spark Internet chatter and trends.

Friedman came to MTV in 1998 to launch MTV’s strategic partnerships and public affairs department. Over the years, he has been instrumental in many of MTV’s social and political causes. In 2004, he helped launch mtvU, the channel dedicated to college students, and as general manager he helped craft the channel’s Emmy Award-winning Sudan campaign to protest genocide in Darfur. He was deeply involved in MTV’s award-winning ‘Fight for Your Rights’ campaign and its ‘Choose or Lose’ political drive. Before joining MTV, Friedman was director for the PEN American Center, an international writers’ human rights organization.

When former MTV President Christina Norman left the channel in 2008, Friedman stepped in as general manager, assuming most of her duties. Norman is now running OWN, the joint venture between Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications Inc.

-- Meg James