Tom Freston — Thomas E. Freston was born on November 22, 1945. He is an American entertainment industry executive. He currently is a principal in Firefly3 LLC, a consulting and investment company. Currently he consults Oprah Winfrey, among others.
Personal Life and Career
Freston began his career advertising at Benton & Bowles (which later merged with D’Arcy). In 1972, after a year of traveling, he moved to Asia to start a textile and clothing business, Hindu Kush, working and living out of New Delhi India and Kabul, Afghanistan.
Returning to the USA in 1979 in a career change, he joined the Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company (WASEC), a pioneer in the new field of cable television programming. He was one of the founding members of the team that created MTV: Music Television. As head of marketing, he worked on the “I Want My MTV” ad campaign that helped make the new network a cultural phenomenon. In 1987 he became the President and CEO of MTV Networks, a job he held for 17 years. MTV Networks launched and operated networks including: Nickelodeon, Nick at Night, VH1, Comedy Central, TV Land, Spike, Country Music Channel, Logo, Noggin, and others.
As CEO of MTV Networks, Freston expanded the company’s reach, built an animation studio, produced feature films, and developed large consumer product and digital businesses. Popular characters and shows included: Blue’s Clues, Beavis and Butt-head,SpongeBob SquarePants,The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,South Park,The Real World,Behind the Music, and Rugrats.”
In 2004, after Viacom President & COO Mel Karmazin stepped down, Freston was named Co-President & Co-COO of Viacom (along with Leslie Moonves). Freston oversaw MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Famous Music Publishing, and Simon & Schuster.
In January 2006, Viacom split into two separate companies: Viacom led by Freston and CBS Corporation headed by Moonves. In September 2006, Freston left Viacom after disagreements with Sumner Redstone, the company’s Chairman.
Freston is now Chairman of the ONE Campaign, an advocacy organization for global poverty issues that was started by Bono, U2 front man. He serves on the boards of the American Museum of History, DreamWorks Animation, (RED), and Emerson College. He also serves as a trustee of the Asia Society where he funded a new department focusing on issues in Afghanistan.
He received a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Michael’s College and an MBA from New York University. He has received many industry awards and recognitions. Freston was noted by “Time” in 2006 as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.