From the Office of Phillipe DaumanDear Colleagues:
Every day, throughout our organization, Viacom employees work hard to push all types of boundaries — strategically, operationally and creatively – seeking out new business frontiers and building innovative audience connections. In our long global history, no person has embodied this spirit of bold pioneering and boundary-busting more than our legendary colleague and long-time friend, Bill Roedy. As Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks International and Vice Chairman of MTV Networks, Bill has crisscrossed the planet, planting our flag on nearly every continent and spreading the gospel of quality, audience-first programming from Beijing, to Bangalore, to Buenos Aires and everywhere in between.
He has established the most well respected and most popular stable of international television channels in the universe and has built a world-class management team led by MTVN International President Bob Bakish. Today, I am writing you about a new chapter in Bill’s extraordinary career. After 22 years, Bill has decided to step down from the non-stop globetrotting and audience building and leave Viacom in January 2011.
Judy and I could not be more appreciative of Bill’s boundless energy and enthusiasm and his extraordinary contributions to our company.
Bill was there when we flipped the switch and began our efforts to extend MTVN’s brands overseas. He led the charge in 1989 as Chief Executive and Managing Director of MTV Europe, our first international channel. Under his watch we have rolled out hundreds of channels around the world, each with its own local flavor, its own character and its own challenges. This is a remarkable achievement and a credit to Bill’s incomparable ability to understand diverse cultures and make the complex decisions necessary to incubate and grow our brands in a way that unites young people under the banner of music and youthful programming.
A Miami native schooled at West Point and Harvard, Bill is a true force of nature and a committed global citizen who has quite literally “been there and done that.” He commanded nuclear missile silos in the Cold War, was present when the Berlin Wall fell, met with Castro in Cuba, dined with China’s supreme leaders, consulted with Nelson Mandela, planted the MTV flag in the Middle East, and advocated for millions of people suffering with AIDS across the globe. He did it all with a natural intelligence, charm and humanity that impressed and inspired colleagues, as well as business partners and political leaders of every stripe and ideology.
Bill’s global mission required his innate respect for diverse traditions, and a creative sensibility that speaks every language and builds bridges around the world. That mission also required Bill – on occasion – to brandish the steel will honed as a combat-decorated officer in Vietnam and go toe-totoe with repressive government officials or entrenched competitors who were challenged by the revolutionary impact of our programming.
In harmony with his work bringing SpongeBob to Japan and True Life to Germany, Bill also used his business and social connections and cultural expertise to bring about positive change on some of the most serious health and social issues of our time. Driven by his compassion and energy, Bill has personally taken on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, advocating awareness and prevention since the
earliest days. Thanks in part to his unflagging commitment, our company continues to play a critical role in battling life-threatening ignorance and stigma and we have been credited with enhancing prevention and reducing the impact of the disease. His leadership of MTVN International’s Staying Alive Campaign and as the chairman of the Staying Alive Foundation has made us an unquestioned pioneer in the creative use of media to fight HIV and AIDS among young people. It is work that has saved lives across the globe.
In recognition of his success in leveraging global media to educate diverse cultures, Bill was appointed Ambassador and Special Representative for the United Nations’ HIV/AIDS initiative, UNAIDS. He has addressed the United Nations General Assembly on several occasions on the issue, and was publicly lauded by Kofi Annan after completing 18 months as the founding chair of the Global Media AIDS Initiative Leadership Committee. In 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents’ Association, presented him with the “Global Citizen of the Year Award”.
Bill leaves an indelible mark on Viacom, MTV Networks and all of those who have worked with him. He embodies the wonderful contradictions that are so critical to our success – he’s a tenacious business leader who is personally generous. He is an advocate for human rights but also an open-minded student of unfamiliar cultures. And he is a man trained to fight communism who spent decades deploying entertainment, children’s programming and health education in countries like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and throughout Africa.
It should be no surprise to any of us that Bill has no intention of slowing down, except perhaps to spend more time with his wife Alex and his children Noa, Liam, Rocky and Tiger. He plans to keep pressing the fight on important global health issues and will maintain his chairmanship of the Staying Alive Foundation, and his active role with the United Nations and the Global Business Coalition on
HIV/AIDS, an organization he helped found more than a decade ago. Bill will also continue to lend his leadership and insight as a board member of numerous international organizations including Healthright, the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the American School in London.
Bill is one of a kind and we will miss him. Please join Judy and me in thanking Bill for his two decades of time zone hopping excellence, selfless dedication and unfailing friendship and in wishing him all the best.