CBS shake-up: Network boss is stepping down as cuts loom

Kelly Kahl, the revered head of the CBS tv community for 5 turbulent years, will step down subsequent month.

CBS President George Cheeks introduced Kahl’s departure Wednesday, noting that the transfer was “part of a restructuring and streamlining of leadership at CBS Entertainment.”

Kahl is broadly considered because the unflappable architect of the trade’s most secure primetime schedule, one which elevated CBS to the highest of the published community heap for 19 of the final 20 tv seasons.

Kahl, in an e mail to the CBS employees, mentioned that working at CBS for the previous 26 years “was an absolute honor and privilege.”

“I started here as a scheduler when we were in 3rd place and loved battling into 1st, but I’m especially proud of our accomplishments during my run as entertainment president over the past five years,” Kahl wrote.

“We delivered tangible improvements in diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera, held our teams together and focused during the pandemic, and launched numerous hit series that maintained CBS #1 status,” Kahl mentioned.

Industrywide, tv corporations are bracing for a troublesome 2023 amid linear rankings declines and forecasts for a doable recession that has already put a giant dent in advertisers’ budgets. All through the tv trade, main corporations, together with Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal, are reducing tons of of staff.

It was unclear Wednesday how dramatic CBS’ downsizing can be however job cuts are anticipated.

In his memo, Cheeks mentioned the corporate would share extra details about its “new leadership structure very soon,” however that Wednesday’s announcement was designed to “focus on Kelly and the incredible legacy he leaves at this network.”

Over his lengthy tenure, Kahl championed daring strikes similar to switching a nascent “Survivor” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” to Thursday nights in an effort to rake in additional promoting {dollars} and compete face to face with NBC’s then-juggernaut lineup. He grew to become leisure president in 2017 — a 12 months earlier than the corporate was despatched reeling by allegations of sexual assault by its longtime chief, Leslie Moonves.

After Moonves was compelled out in September 2018, Kahl stepped up together with Showtime’s David Nevins to supply stability for a shell-shocked division. The upheaval continued in 2019 when Viacom and CBS merged, creating ViacomCBS. Earlier this 12 months, the corporate rebranded itself Paramount World, in an effort to depart its tumultuous previous behind. Nevins is also leaving the corporate.

As leisure president, Kahl shepherded such hits as “The Neighborhood,” “Ghosts,” “The Equalizer,” “NCIS: Hawai’i,” “Fire Country,” and three installments of “FBI.” He additionally advocated for CBS’ hit actuality franchises.

“More broadly, Kelly has been a fierce advocate for the vitality of broadcast television while being a steady and respected network leader through the good times as well as turbulent periods,” Cheeks wrote. “Without question, Kelly has dedicated the last 26 years to building CBS and leaves it positioned for even further success. He has been humble, gracious and generous with his peers every step of the way.”

A graduate of the College of Wisconsin and USC’s Annenberg Faculty for Communication and Journalism, Kahl obtained his break in tv as an intern at Lorimar, the manufacturing firm greatest identified for the hit collection “Dallas” and “Knot’s Landing.”

Lorimar grew to become a part of Warner Bros. Tv the place, underneath then chief Moonves, the studio produced two of community TV’s largest hits “Friends” and “ER.” Kahl labored within the analysis division at Warner Bros. after which adopted Moonves to CBS when he grew to become leisure president in 1995.

Kahl was put answerable for scheduling and through the years used the community’s meager programming belongings to construct a bigger viewers. Utilizing such hits as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Survivor,” “CSI” “Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS,” Kahl’s method was to broaden the community’s power throughout the week with none main disruptions to viewers’ habits in an age earlier than that they had streaming and DVRs.

Kahl ascended to the position of leisure president — one of many uncommon scheduling executives to make the leap to the inventive aspect — and stored the community in first place. Underneath Kahl’s watch, CBS continued to end up broad enchantment hits such because the sitcom “Ghosts,” and producer Dick Wolf’s “FBI” franchise.

Over the past 20 years, with Kahl as a part of the leisure division’s management, CBS has been probably the most watched community, aside from the 2007-08 season when the Writers Guild of America strike had stored many hit collection off the air or in repeat episodes.

On Wednesday, Kahl didn’t say what his subsequent enterprise is likely to be. However he celebrated his camaraderie together with his CBS crew.

“I’ve lived a TV fan’s dream to work with the most talented writers, producers, and actors in television. Most importantly, I’ve loved being in the trenches alongside all of you — the finest executives and employees in show business,” Kahl wrote. “This place is special and so are its people.”