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CBS Interactive president stepping down

Although he doesn't wear loud sneakers, CBS' top digital executive still knows how to make tracks.

Neil Ashe -- who has been in charge of CBS Interactive for nearly a year -- plans to step down sometime in early 2011, CBS confirmed Wednesday. Ashe assumed responsibility for all of CBS' new media ventures, including the technology news outlet CNET and TV.com, in January after investment banker Quincy Smith, a colorful and fast-talking executive who was known for his trademark tennis shoes, left the old media giant to launch his own consulting firm.   NeilAshe

Ashe kept a much lower profile, and it was unclear why he was leaving.  The Wall Street Journal's All Things D website first reported his upcoming departure.

"Neil has helped make CBS Interactive into the successful and profitable business it is today," a CBS spokesman said in a statement. "Looking out into 2011, we are working on a relaxed time-frame to name a successor to his post."

Previously Ashe served as chief executive of CNET,  joining that organization in 2002. He came to CBS a little more than two years ago as part of CBS' $1.8-billion acquisition of CNET. 

CBS, like all media companies, has been experimenting to figure out what content works well on the Internet, and how to best to position itself for an era when more consumers order TV shows one episode at a time to watch on their cellphones and laptops rather than just flipping on the TV set. No one is sure just how media companies will be able to preserve their lucrative revenue streams.

This week, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told investors at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that the broadcasting giant was moving cautiously into the digital frontier in an effort to protect existing businesses -- advertising revenue and syndication fees -- that still pay the bills.

"The mother lode is still the network; it's still syndication," Moonves said. "We get billions and billions and billions of dollars in network television advertising. We get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars per year in syndication, both domestic and international. As we enter into these new platforms, once again, being first in, I don't see the great advantage."

-- Meg James

Photo: Neil Ashe. Credit: CBS.

Comments () | Archives (3)

When you see people like Neil Ashe stepping down from their executive positions, it signals change. These days television is taking a initiative to clean up its act and get serious. When things like this happen in any industry, people notice, and there are sure to be more events like Neil Ashe's departure from CBS.

Brendan Ryan

The Brendan Ryan Company
Houston, Texas

To be truly successful with online internet content, make sure the videos work. CBS has the potential to have a loyal following on the internet because of non-traditional lifestyles. Online advertising will pay for the service but don't offend the nascent viewers with excess. In just a few months, we have seen commercial interruptions go from 4 15 second slots per episode to 4 or 5 slots with 3 30second commercials. At that point viewers just mute the commercials and get increasingly annoyed. The internet is still a unique experience and online advertising should be subtle, not a duplication of traditional network television. CBS still has most of the best shows and talent of all the networks and has the opportunity to create another loyal base with internet viewership. Don't ruin it with viewer fees or subscription rates.

this feels like he was pushed out. Maybe in retrospect, it feels like CBS overpaid for CNET.

remember when Sumner Redstone canned Tom Freston because he couldn't close the deal to buy My Space?


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