Sean Atkins is stepping down from his role as president at MTV. He had only been in the job for about a year.
Atkins made the announcement in a memo to staff on Monday morning, which Business Insider has obtained from MTV.
“I apologise for the shock to your Monday morning, but I have some news to share that will come as a surprise,” Atkins wrote. “I have decided to step down from my post as President of MTV. I’ll be consulting on the transition through January in an advisory role.”
Deadline reports that Atkins decided to leave after he was informed by his boss, Viacom Music and Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog, that the company was planning to place an executive above him.
Later on Monday morning, Viacom announced that VH1 and Logo President Chris McCarthy will now expand his role to MTV, as well. McCarthy, who has spearheaded a ratings revival at VH1 and Logo as their current president. was the instant frontrunner to replace Atkins.
“Chris has infused every brand he’s led with creativity, strategic clarity and distinctive talent — driving results that defy this extraordinarily competitive landscape,” said Herzog in a statement. “MTV is an iconic brand full of opportunity, and Chris has demonstrated the vision and ability to grow its expansive reach and powerful cultural impact.”
During Atkins’ short tenure at the ratings-challenged network, he worked at reinvigorating its music tradition and relaunching MTV News; adding new programming, such as critical favourite “Loosely Exactly Nicole”; and focusing on its digital offerings in order to capture the network’s target younger viewership.
Atkins was named MTV president last September. Previously, he was a digital-media executive at Discovery Communications.
Read Atkins’ full memo to staff below:
“I apologise for the shock to your Monday morning, but I have some news to share that will come as a surprise. I have decided to step down from my post as President of MTV. I’ll be consulting on the transition through January in an advisory role.
I will leave it to Doug to fill you in on the details, but suffice it to say this was in no way an easy decision for me. This has been an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience, and I thank every single one of you for that. I am so proud of what this team has accomplished together. We’ve filled the creative pipeline with so many new projects and producers. Amazing projects like ‘Sweet/Vicious,’ ‘Stranded with a Million Bucks,’ ‘Signed and Going Off’ are just around the corner. We’ve moved aggressively to recapture music as our muse with projects like ‘Made in Compton,’ ‘Wonderland,’ and ‘Virtually Famous’ just to name a few. We’re taking the time and care to do smart thinking around the brand and vision for MTV, including bringing in new media and creative agencies to back our new brand campaign. We’ve continued to invest into our future with the successful growth of our Snapchat Discover channel, social footprint and MTV News. And we’ve continued to be an incredible social voice with our ‘Elect This campaign’ and launch of our new documentary unit. This tremendous creative effort is a recipe for success and it will pay off.
I’m so deeply impressed with the team here and so grateful to have been part of it. You have unbelievable drive and dedication, unstoppable creative passion and are relentlessness in attacking challenges from every possible angle. This speaks volumes about the amazing MTV culture and your commitment to this brand.
Thank you so much, and a special word of thanks to my incredible senior team, for pushing and inspiring me every day.
You will all be in very good hands as I move on, I assure you. And I promise I will be watching and cheering as you continue to build up from the great foundation we created together.
This article was updated with the appointment of Chris McCarthy.
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