Tom Freston: What's the matter with media?

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

TRANSCRIPT

Question: What needs to change in the media today?

Tom Freston:
Well I never really thought of the media as some kind of boogey man, that something has to change.  I mean the media now is so diverse and so complex.  And there’s so much of it, you know, you can find problems with anything I suppose.  But the fact of the matter is a lot of the media today isn’t targeted to me – or isn’t targeted to any person in particular.  They look for certain market segments and they go for them, and they really don’t care for anything else or about what anybody else thinks.  And you know professionally I was part of that process for a long time.  But I do believe today if you’re an active, involved, educated, thoughtful person, you can find a mix of media that appeals to you, satisfies you more readily, and better than at any point and time in history.  So you can say, “Oh my god, the media.  They’re so exploitative.  They lean towards the sensational thing.”  Or, “They don’t have enough international news coverage.”  But you know it’s your decision what you wanna watch.  And there’s just so many other options I really have a hard time feeling sorry for anybody who has that point of view.

Recorded On: 11/5/07


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