Toffler to Leave Position Overseeing Viacom’s MTV, VH1 Channels

Van Toffler, the executive who oversees cable channels MTV and VH1 for Viacom Inc., will leave the company after a career in which MTV shifted from music to reality shows and young viewers increasingly turned to the Internet for entertainment.

Toffler, who has been with Viacom for almost 28 years, will form a new company to produce and acquire video content, according to a memo to workers today. He will continue to produce a number of Viacom’s live events, including MTV’s Video Music Awards, after leaving the New York-based company in April.

Toffler has worked at Viacom through MTV’s evolution from the preeminent destination for music videos to a channel that pumped out shows like “The Real World” and “Jersey Shore.” MTV’s attraction has been blunted by the popularity of YouTube and other online video outlets, causing a decline in viewership.

In the current TV season, MTV audiences declined more than 10 percent in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic, according to Nielsen data reported in January. Viacom’s domestic ad revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 31 fell 6 percent amid lower TV ratings, the company said in January.

“This is a very personal decision about pursuing the loud and insatiable part of my failed musician/poet soul that needs to purely make great stuff,” Toffler wrote in the memo. “After a long wonderful run with all of you. But you aren’t getting rid of me yet.”