What Caused Viacom/MTV to Issue Last Week’s Employee Gag Reminder?


On Saturday, we showed you what media giant Viacom’s employee guidelines regarding the press — and social media presences — were as per their employee handbook: pretty draconian, especially considering that Viacom doesn’t pay for many of the email’s recipients’ health insurance. Jeremy Zweig, one of Viacom’s PR VP’s, dropped in the comments of that post to let us know that those guidelines are about a year old, and are available publicly. And he’s right! But that doesn’t explain why Viacom took the unusually aggressive move of reminding their worker bees just how much they mean those guidelines when they sent them out – and emphasized certain sections – in an email on Friday, which we’ve now got! It went like this:

From: “Viacom Payroll” <>

To: “Viacom Payroll” <>

Cc: [Redacted]

Subject: Viacom/MTV Networks Business Practices Statement

Date: Fri, 04 Jun 2010 16:35:27 -0400

Business Practices Statement

Attached is Viacom’s Business Practices Statement which provides important information on our commitment as a company and as individuals to uphold the highest standards of ethical behavior. All project based, temporary workers, and interns working for Viacom or MTV Networks must read the Statement and adhere to all the policies contained in it. For your reference, an electronic copy of the Statement can be viewed in the “About Viacom” section.

In addition to reading the Statement, you are required to disclose any actual or potential conflicts of interest you may have. Section II of the Statement gives examples of potential conflicts which may include activities such as: creating personal blogs; speeches and/or presentations you are planning to give at outside events; organizations, charities and/or clubs to which you belong and any positions you hold in such; and outside jobs or employment you are engaged in, whether such is paid or unpaid. Also, keep in mind that you may need to update your disclosures as certain events and activities arise in the future.

All conflict of interest disclosures should be emailed to the MTV Networks Online Compliance Center at


Even worse is the part we took out, which you might notice on that CC line: At least 150 permalancer email addresses, many of whom are recognizable bylines. Tactful! But what prompted Viacom to send this out? An employee get canned over a blog? Or were they prepping to get ahead of what any employees might have to say about last night’s big MTV fete, the MTV Movie Awards? We’d love to hear it, or any other stories about Viacom coming down on your ability to express yourself as a very alienable right that you might have out there.