Tom Freston: What is your outlook?

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: Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic?

Tom Freston: I’m still an optimist. You know I look back over time and you say, “Oh, things have basically improved for the greater lot of mankind.” There’s always been a lot of problems. Right now they’re acute and we’re more interconnected. And problems can infect other parts of the world much more easily. But to date, the lot of mankind I believe has generally gotten better. There’s been big setbacks. Look at World War II. Look at Chairman Mao’s great leap forward. You know the dark ages. But in general, like the Stock Market might have a bull market and a bear market, I think in the end problems can be dealt with, and mankind will continue to improve on a whole.

Recorded On: 7/6/07