Robbins out, 84 sacked in Singapore.

MTV Networks Asia Pacific on Wednesday (Oct. 11) confirmed a wide-ranging reorganization based on decentralization of regional functions and corporate roles. Billboard.biz reported the restructuring on Oct. 9.

As expected, the changes include the resignation of MTVNAP president Nigel Robbins, effective immediately, and the laying-off of 84 staff -- roughly half the total headcount -- at the company's Singapore head office.

In a statement, the company says Robbins will remain with the company through the end of the year to support the transition. He will be replaced on a temporary basis by executive VP/COO Steven Tan until a permanent replacement Robbins is named.

MTVNAP says that under the restructuring plan its local operations will be in charge of their TV and digital media businesses, while the Singapore head office will continue to be the base for the streamlined corporate group.

"The Singapore base group has played a key role in our operations," says MTV Networks International president Bill Roedy. "Our local units now require a reduced level of support from the Singapore team.

"We want to take the Asian business to the next stage of growth," Roedy adds. "The shift from being TV-centric to being platform-agnostic requires that we focus our resources on our local operations."

He stresses that Robbins, who was appointed to his current position in December 2005, decided on his own to leave MTV. "It's a decision that we understand and support," Roedy says, adding, "I wouldn't be surprised to see him back at MTV in the future."

Roedy says the staff cuts at the Singapore office was "agonizing on a personal level" for him. "Sadly, we'll be losing some very talented colleagues."

A senior member of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia said, "This isn't surprising when you consider the fate of former CEO Tom Freston in the States. Just look there to see the sort of situation MTV is in. Companies like MTV are being challenged by online entities. It and all media businesses have to reposition themselves. It's a fact of life."

Another Asian industry source describes the restructuring as "a meltdown, extremely badly handled."

Comments Roslyn Reyes, Hong Kong-based marketing director of Sony BMG Asia Pacific: "We were expecting something but I have to say we are still shocked by the news that there are job losses -- especially as these are people we deal with everyday. We are looking into how this will impact our relationship with MTV."

Roedy says the restructuring "is not about cost-cutting. It's about the transition around the world from a centralized to a local strategy."

MTVNAP has a total of 22 channels which it says reach a total of 300 million households in the region.