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Ralph Baruch

  • Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
  • Birthday: August 05
Date of passing: 
March 03, 2016

Ralph Baruch was a pioneering executive at Viacom who guided the company’s spinoff from CBS in 1971. He served as Viacom’s president and CEO from 1971 to 1983 and as its chairman until 1987, when Sumner Redstone bought the company.

Baruch began his communications career in radio, joining the DuMont Television Network in 1950. He moved on to CBS in 1954 and worked his way up to CBS Group president. Prior to the spinoff, Viacom was the home of the network’s syndication business. It grew by acquiring other cable networks, including the Cable Health Network (now known as Lifetime), MTV, Nickelodeon, the Movie Channel and VH1; as well as launching Showtime and buying back the half of Showtime that had been sold to Warner Bros.

A native of Frankfurt, Germany, Baruch and his family fled the Nazis in 1933 and relocated to Paris. In 1940, they had to leave again, and arrived in the U.S. in December of the same year. He wrote about his journey in his 2007 autobiography, Television Tightrope — How I Escaped Hitler, Survived CBS and Fathered Viacom.

Ralph Baruch was a pioneering executive at Viacom who guided the company’s spinoff from CBS in 1971. He served as Viacom’s president and CEO from 1971 to 1983 and as its chairman until 1987, when Sumner Redstone bought the company.

Baruch began his communications career in radio, joining the DuMont Television Network in 1950. He moved on to CBS in 1954 and worked his way up to CBS Group president. Prior to the spinoff, Viacom was the home of the network’s syndication business. It grew by acquiring other cable networks, including the Cable Health Network (now known as Lifetime), MTV, Nickelodeon, the Movie Channel and VH1; as well as launching Showtime and buying back the half of Showtime that had been sold to Warner Bros.

A native of Frankfurt, Germany, Baruch and his family fled the Nazis in 1933 and relocated to Paris. In 1940, they had to leave again, and arrived in the U.S. in December of the same year. He wrote about his journey in his 2007 autobiography, Television Tightrope — How I Escaped Hitler, Survived CBS and Fathered Viacom.

Baruch also served as vice chairman of Carnegie Hall, was a member of the board of the PBS station WNET and a trustee of the Museum of Television and Radio (now the Paley Center for Media). He also helped underwrite the fledgling cable channel C-SPAN in the late 1970s.

Additionally, Baruch was a founder of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and served on its board and executive committee. In 1985, the IRTS honored him with its prestigious gold medal, and in 1999 he received an International Emmy, presented to him by Walter Cronkite.

Baruch died March 3, 2016, in New York City. He was 92.

 

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