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Herzog: Fantasy over.

MTV HITS A NEW LOW

Low morale at MTV Networks is said by the rank and file to be attributable to its tanking ratings, which have most recently plummeted 26% overall and 25% in the crucial 18-49 demo on the watch of new chief Doug Herzog.

The station, which once upon a time played a decisive role in dictating the course of pop culture—when music and music related programming were the heart of its power menu—has staked its fortunes on reality and the hyper-expensive horror/fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles, which opened and bombed this week, instead of investing in and perhaps even believing in the M in MTV. Now it finds itself at #30, below MSNBC, in ratings and #21 (just above TLC) in demo.

MTV is but one of the Viacom properties targeted in a controversial PowerPoint deck from activist investor Eric Jackson of SpringOwl. But in several of his slides showing precipitous plunges in ratings, MTV has dropped the most.

Herzog chose to scrub most of the previous generation of MTV Networks execs (basically only keeping Amy Doyle, the well-liked, multi-talented bridge from the heyday). Observers wonder if Herzog and his new executive team, at a network previously piloted by visionary execs like Tom Freston, Bob Pittman, Van Toffler and Judy McGrath, have squandered the brand once and for all.

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