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US Media & Comm management moves through Dec. 14: Google, Verizon, Viacom

Media industry moves

* Harte Hanks Inc. CFO and Executive Vice President Doug Shepard resigned from his post, the company said Dec. 13. Robert Munden, the company's general counsel and executive vice president, will become interim CFO during the search for Shepard's successor, with Scott Hamilton set to coordinate the investor relations program.

* Brendan Iribe, the CEO of Facebook Inc.'s virtual reality unit Oculus VR Inc., is stepping down from his position as part of a restructuring, Iribe said in his Dec. 13 blog post. Oculus will split into two groups: PC and mobile. Iribe will lead the PC VR group, while Jon Thomason, who joined Oculus recently, will head the mobile VR group. Thomason and Iribe, along with Facebook's Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, will together look for a new CEO for Oculus.

* Mark Ford will step down as executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Time Inc., the company said Dec. 13. Ford will now serve the company as executive vice president and senior strategic sales adviser. He will be succeeded by Brad Elders, currently Time Inc.'s president of digital sales. Also, Mark Ellis, president and COO of sales and marketing, will leave the company.

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. acquired smartwatch OS startup Cronologics, the latter said on its website. The startup will join Google's Android Wear division.

* Group Inc. struck a definitive agreement to buy Latin American technology company, according to a Dec. 12 statement. CEO and founder Guillermo Tornatore, along with his team of approximately 90 employees, will join, the latter's CEO David Brown said. The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

* Bob Bakish, who has led Viacom Inc. as acting president and CEO, retained his role as head of the company. In a Dec. 12 news release, the company said that Bakish had been appointed president, CEO and director of Viacom. He was formerly president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks.

* Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd. appointed Shavkat Berdiev as vice president and general manager of its Southeast Asian operations, the Singapore Business Review reported Dec. 9. Berdiev is taking over from Louis Boswell, who is assuming the newly created position of senior vice president of distribution for Discovery's Asia-Pacific business. Discovery Networks is a unit of Discovery Communications Inc.

* NBC News will shut down its online service Breaking News at the end of 2016, according to a Dec. 8 tweet by general manager and co-founder Cory Bergman. The decision was made due to lackluster revenue performance, USA Today reported the same day, citing a letter from Nick Ascheim, NBC News' senior vice president of digital. Bergman and about 20 staff will continue to work for NBC until late January 2017. NBC News is a unit of Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC.

* Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. completed the acquisition of Starz in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $4.4 billion, according to a Dec. 8 news release. Starz will now operate as a wholly owned unit of Lions Gate. Chris Albrecht, who will remain president and CEO of Starz, will also join Lions Gate's Executive Management Committee.

Communications industry moves

* Cable One Inc.'s board of directors promoted president and COO Julie Laulis to the role of CEO, the company said Dec. 12. Laulis will remain Cable One president.

* Verizon Communications Inc. named Erin McPherson as chief of content strategy, acquisition and programming, Multichannel News reported Dec. 8. McPherson replaces Terry Denson, who has left the company.