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Frank Exiting Viacom

1/09/2006 5:37 AM Eastern

Veteran Viacom Inc. research guru Betsy Frank is leaving, the second high-level executive to exit following the company’s split.

Frank -- executive vice president of research and planning for Viacom’s cable networks, film and publishing -- will continue to do consulting projects for Viacom after her departure, she said Monday. Last week, Nickelodeon Networks president Herb Scannell announced his exit from Viacom.

Frank has been doing research on a corporate level for Viacom since November 2004. Prior to that, she served as executive VP of research and planning for MTV Networks, joining the cable-programming unit in July 1997.

On the corporate level, Frank’s task was to make all of Viacom consumer-focused and driven, just as MTVN was, according to Frank.

Viacom officially divided in two Jan. 1, with MTVN’s cable networks and Paramount Studio falling under the purview of Tom Freston as Viacom, and the CBS network, TV and radio stations, Simon & Schuster Inc., Showtime Networks Inc. and Sundance Channel becoming part of CBS Corp., under Leslie Moonves.

That restructuring essentially meant that Frank’s sphere of responsibility was being diminished, and she decided that it was time to move on.

“The organization changed, and so the job that Tom [Freston] and I had envisioned at the beginning didn’t exist anymore because I was in a centralized role in a decentralized company,” Frank said. “It was just a different job than what I signed on for.”

For example, Frank pointed out that she had recently done work for Showtime, Sundance and Simon & Schuster, which have all moved over to CBS.

As a consultant, Frank said, she will work with MTVN chairman Judy McGrath and president of ad sales Larry Divney on the cable unit’s upfront strategy this spring.

She also has a project to do for Freston, which is to study the different ways consumers are involved “across the multiple screens that video can be seen on,” from movie screens to cellular phones.

Viacom has no plans at this point to replace Frank.

“Betsy has been an important part of our company for the past eight years,” the company said in a prepared statement. “For the time being, we are going to tap into each division’s research departments for their expertise on the wide-ranging audiences we serve.”

September