Viacom Inc., facing internal board dissent and pressure from proxy advisers to improve its governance, said Frederic Salerno was elected to serve as lead independent director, a new role at the entertainment company that owns Nickelodeon and MTV.
Salerno, 72, who was already on the board, will coordinate the activities of the independent directors and serve as liaison to Philippe Dauman, chairman and chief executive officer, the New York-based media company said Wednesday in a statement.
Dauman became chairman last month following the resignation of controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone. He was elected with the backing of all but one director — Redstone’s daughter Shari, who called for an independent chairman. Salerno’s re-election to the board at this week’s annual meeting was opposed by proxy advisers including Glass Lewis & Co.
“Fred has been a strong leader as a member of our board and his judgment, broad perspective and experience will serve him and the board well as he undertakes his new role as lead independent director,” Dauman said in the statement.
Salerno has longstanding ties to Viacom and CBS Corp., another major media company controlled by the 92-year-old billionaire Redstone. He’s served as a director of Viacom since 1994, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and has been on the board of CBS since 2007.