Tom Freston
Fmr. Pres. & CEO, Viacom
01:30

Tom Freston: What forces have shaped America most?

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We're all immigrants.

Tom Freston

Tom Freston was one of MTV's founding executives and until recently served as CEO of Viacom. Freston is responsible for the generation-defining ad campaign "I Want My MTV." In 1987 he became the CEO of MTV Networks, using his position to advance the networks' position in new markets, as well as launching several ancillary product lines and tie-ins, including "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "The Real World," "Beavis and Butthead," "South Park" and "SpongeBob Square Pants." From 2004, Freston led Viacom, overseeing all cable network properties (MTV Networks and Showtime Networks), the motion picture businesses of Paramount Pictures, and the publishing operations of Simon & Schuster. He resigned in September 2006. Freston was educated at New York University and is currently on the Board of Trustees for Emerson College in Boston. Ideas recorded on: 11/5/07
Transcript

Question: What forces that have shaped America most?

Tom Freston: Well I think immigration. Of course we’re all immigrants here. The idea that there was a lot of space here. I mean that’s an old story. People believe that, where people could expand. Then America was this new country. It was this new land, and it had this new form of government. And the idea of America is a really great idea; and I think, you know, it was an idea that until very recently had been held in very high esteem by a lot of people in the world. I mean the Declaration of Independence – what a fantastic document; that mankind was gonna sort of take control of his destiny in this new form of government. And then the waves of immigration that have arrived here at our shore and allowed us to create, you know, sort of this non-hierarchical society where you have, you know . . . people can come out of nowhere and invent or innovate something and become, you know, whether that be themselves or some product or service and have a large impact positively on the rest of us. It’s a freer, opener . . . more open place because of forces like that.

Recorded On: 7/6/07


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