Discovery Communications Inc. named NBC Universal’s David Zaslav as the successor to Judith McHale, who steps down as DCI’s president and CEO on Dec. 1. Zaslav, currently president of NBC Universal Cable and Domestic TV and New Media Distribution, assumes his new position in January.
Like McHale, he started in television as a lawyer and advised Discovery founder, chairman and acting CEO John Hendricks in the early days of the company. Zaslav currently serves on TiVo’s board with Hendricks. More details on his hiring are outlined in the press release below.
Cox Communications president Pat Esser, whose company is one of DCI’s four shareholders, commented: "David’s unique understanding of strategic development, programming and the operational process will absolutely be a huge asset to Discovery’s continued success and long range outlook. The work that Discovery is doing is extremely vital to our industry. We at Cox are thrilled to be a part of that and we will continue to be a supportive partner with David and Discovery."
For more on Zaslav’s "keen insights" into digital media and multiplatform strategy—a big part of his new job, as Hendricks notes below—read this recent Q&A with Zaslav and a Nov. 2004 Q&A with Zaslav and his NBCU team. For a Q&A with John Hendricks, click here.
DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS ANNOUNCES DAVID ZASLAV AS PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
SILVER SPRING, MD – David Zaslav, president of NBC Universal Cable and Domestic TV and New Media Distribution, has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications Inc., it was announced today by John S. Hendricks, Founder and Chairman, Discovery Communications.
Hendricks chaired the company’s CEO Search Committee, which was comprised of representatives from Discovery’s shareholders: Discovery Holding Company, Advance/ Newhouse Communications, and Cox Communications.
Hendricks stated: "We are absolutely delighted to announce that David Zaslav will become the next President and CEO of Discovery Communications. I have had the pleasure of knowing David for over two decades since he first helped me in the early days of Discovery as a bright, energetic young lawyer who enthusiastically embraced our brand and worked tirelessly on our key programming and distribution deals. In the time since, David has amassed an enormous set of management and financial skills at NBC Universal where he built the distribution base and operations of an enviable array of cable and new media offerings. In serving with David on the TiVo Board of Directors, I directly observed David’s keen insights into the future landscape of media. David is always ahead of the game. He is a passionate, inspiring leader who is the perfect choice to steward the valuable stable of Discovery brands and to guide our global company into the digital future."
Zaslav stated: "I want to thank John Hendricks and Discovery’s shareholders for the opportunity to lead this great company. Simply put: this is a dream job. From right out of law school in the mid-1980s, I have long admired John’s incredible vision, integrity and entrepreneurial spirit. I could not be more honored to join the incredible team at Discovery and work with somebody who I consider such a tremendous leader and mentor. With so many trusted and dynamic brands, Discovery has been a trailblazer from its very beginning. I look forward to building on the company’s heritage of creative excellence, and the attributes for which it has always been known–world class content, global expansion, and first-mover advantage into new distribution platforms."
Zaslav added: "It’s been a pleasure working with Bob Wright and Jeff Zucker. There’s an amazing team in place at NBC Universal, so leaving was not an easy decision. I’ll always look back on my time at NBCU with great fondness."
Zaslav joins Discovery Communications as the company is experiencing strong ratings growth across its main television networks in the United States and robust distribution gains for its services around the world. Discovery also is expanding its multiplatform reach with the recent launch of several new integrated businesses including Discovery Travel Media, Discovery Health Media and Animal Planet Media Enterprises.
Zaslav was named president of NBC Universal Cable and Domestic TV and New Media Distribution in May 2006. He has directed NBCU’s new media strategy, leading strategic efforts to sell the company’s content on all relevant platforms. He has also been responsible for the strategic development for NBC Universal’s cable portfolio and operations for the company’s domestic TV distribution, TV EST (electronic sell-through) and TV Wireless Distribution. Zaslav has also overseen domestic distribution of NBC Universal content to all forms of television
throughout the United States and Canada and the strategic development of NBC Universal’s cable portfolio, the company’s video-on-demand, HDTV and pay-per-view initiatives.
Zaslav joined NBC in 1989 and was instrumental in developing and launching CNBC, MSNBC and negotiating landmark deals on behalf of NBCU with DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner. In addition to his work at NBC, Zaslav is on the boards of the Arts & Entertainment Network, National Geographic Television, TiVo, The National Cable Center, Cable in the Classroom and New York City’s Center for Communications. He was also an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where he created and taught a graduate-level course on the business of cable television.
Zaslav, who succeeds Judith McHale, will assume his new duties in early 2007. In the interim period, John Hendricks will serve as acting Chief Executive Officer.
Discovery Communications, Inc. is the leading global real-world media company with operations in 170 countries and territories reaching 1.4 billion cumulative subscribers. DCI’s over 100 networks of distinctive programming represent 29 trusted brands including Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet. DCI’s other properties consist of Discovery Education and COSMEO, a revolutionary online homework help service, as well as Discovery Commerce, which operates more than 100 Discovery Channel Stores in the U.S. Discovery brings the real world to the whole world through its global multiplatform initiatives including Discovery Travel Media, Discovery Mobile and multiple broadband services. DCI’s ownership consists of four shareholders: Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Cox Communications, Inc., Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, the Company’s Founder and Chairman. More information about Discovery and its businesses can be
found at www.discovery.com.