Martin Franks, a top media industry lobbyist and key executive at CBS, is retiring this fall.
In a memo to staff, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said Franks has been the "glue and grease" of the company. Franks will exit CBS at the end of September.
Franks, 62, played a key role in several regulatory changes that altered the media landscape, including the elimination of the financial interest and syndication rules which prohibited networks from owning the TV shows they air, and the creation of retransmission consent which gave broadcasters the ability to seek fees from pay-TV operators in return for distribution rights.
Moonves noted that because of Franks' work, retransmission consent is "now a fast-growing, nine-figure revenue source for our company." The removal of the so-called fin-syn rules cleared the way for CBS to own the "CSI" franchise, which Moonves said has earned more than $3 billion for the company.
Franks joined CBS in 1988 as vice president of the company's Washington office and is currently its executive vice president of planning, policy and government affairs. Besides still helming CBS' Capitol Hill efforts, Franks oversees retransmission consent negotiations for the company and is in charge of the network's standards and practices department.
Although media watchdogs often differed with Franks on issues, his calm demeanor, nonconfrontational style and sense of humor won him respect even from rivals.
Prior to joining CBS, Franks served on the staffs of President Carter and U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).
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