DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS ANNOUNCES NEW CORPORATE STRUCTURE AND SENIOR LEADERSHIP CHANGES
SILVER SPRING, MD — February 5, 2007 — David M. Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, today announced a series of structural and personnel changes. Excerpts of Zaslav’s statement to Discovery’s global workforce follow.
Positioning Discovery for Growth: A Message from David Zaslav
I am pleased to announce a series of structural and personnel changes that will position Discovery for creative excellence and strong profitability growth. The reorganization is based on three key strategic initiatives:
Build Strong Brands. As consumers have more and more choice, we must reinforce and clarify the positioning of all our brands. There is no question that the Discovery Channel is the company’s primary asset. But we have a tremendous portfolio with some of the most valuable brands in the world.
Create a Lean and Aggressive Organization. Creating a lean and aggressive organization that fosters a real performance culture is vital to our success. The objective is to push authority and accountability down across the company.
Lead in New Media and Brand Extension. Building cable channels and enhancing their performance is not enough in this competitive marketplace. We need to focus on leading in new media and "building out" our entitlement for each brand. This includes creating new brand extensions and finding new distribution platforms for our content.
The following structural and personnel changes are effective immediately:
The position of President, Discovery Networks U.S., is being eliminated. As part of our effort to build a lean and aggressive organization, network General Managers will have full authority and accountability to grow their brands.
Billy Campbell will be leaving the company. Billy has been an enthusiastic champion for Discovery over the past five years. He led Discovery Networks U.S. through many important changes as well as a remarkable ratings turnaround. Under Billy’s leadership, the Discovery Channel and TLC had double digit ratings gains in 2006 and contributed to record revenue and cash flow at the division. He has been a steady force at Discovery and directed the team through many outstanding programming initiatives including The Flight That Fought Back. He has brought great dedication, innovation, and creative vision to the entire company.
Network Brand Groups
There will be five network brand groups reporting to me:
(1) Jane Root, President and General Manager of the Discovery Channel. Jane will also oversee the Science Channel.
(2) President and General Manager of TLC. David Abraham will leave the company at the end of March and return home to the UK. David leaves TLC in a strong position with a wonderful creative platform in the Life Lessons campaign. We will immediately begin a search of internal and external candidates to find the next leader of the TLC brand.
(3) Pat Younge, President and General Manager of Discovery Travel Media.
(4) The company’s family-focused networks will be consolidated under a single executive. Marjorie Kaplan is being promoted to President and General Manager of Animal Planet Media and Discovery Kids Media. Marjorie will lead the effort to make Animal Planet a must-have for audiences and partners around the world.
The position of General Manager, Animal Planet Media is being eliminated and Maureen Smith will be leaving the company. Maureen has been a strong and passionate leader at Animal Planet during a very demanding time. Under Maureen’s leadership, Animal Planet has created wonderful franchises such as Meerkat Manor and moved aggressively into the new media space with the acquisition of Petfinder.com. Maureen also demonstrated true strength and compassion as the company struggled to cope with the death of Steve Irwin. Animal Planet now reaches over 90 million homes in the U.S. and Maureen leaves the brand well positioned for future growth.
(5) Len Tacconi, President, Discovery Health Media Enterprises.
These leaders will assume additional authority over key business functions including Production, Marketing, New Media, Communications and Research and will have dedicated brand support from Advertising Sales and Business Development. More direct control of these functions is an essential part of our strategy to empower managers in charge of the company’s growth businesses. These network brand groups will become the primary creative engines across the company’s television and distribution platforms.
There will be a senior business manager, similar to a chief operating officer, for each of the network brand groups. As we increase responsibility across our key businesses, it is important to allow creative executives to focus on the creative work and business executives to focus on the operations. To support the general managers with their P&L responsibilities, these executives will oversee all business operations and administration, coordination across business units and leading the strategy for brand extensions. We will immediately begin a search of internal and external candidates to fill these important operating roles.
Advertising Sales and Affiliate Sales and Marketing
Presidents Joe Abruzzese and Bill Goodwyn will now report to me. The annual revenue between these two groups is the foundation of the company’s financial strength. I am convinced that we have a world-class team that is passionate, smart and creative. As the marketplace continues to be extremely challenging, Joe, Bill and their teams are focused on ensuring Discovery remains the industry leader for sales innovation and customer service.
A new Discovery Studios will be formed to house the Discovery Production Group; Discovery Films; Discovery Creative Resources; and our short-form content unit, commonly known as Preditor. Veteran executive Clark Bunting will assume the new role of President, Discovery Studios and report to me. Clark has been one of the strongest leaders at Discovery from the company’s very beginning and will do a superb job leading this important department.
Emerging Networks Group
A new Emerging Networks Group will be formed to include the Military Channel, Discovery Times Channel, Discovery Home Channel, and Discovery HD Theater. There is enormous opportunity here. Bringing together these assets, each with its own General Manager and dedicated P&L, will allow the company to focus on unlocking the full value of our emerging brands. We will immediately begin a search among internal and external candidates to find the strongest leader to oversee the Emerging Networks Group.
Global Businesses and Operations
Mark Hollinger is being promoted to President, Global Businesses and Operations. Mark has been a terrific executive for Discovery in managing a diverse range of responsibilities. His experience, judgment, and steadiness have been invaluable to the company and he remains an integral part of the senior management team setting Discovery’s growth strategy. Mark’s additional responsibilities will include management of Discovery Commerce and Discovery Networks International. Discovery Commerce President Frank Rosales will now report to Mark.
Discovery Networks International
Greg Ricca will join Discovery as President and CEO of Discovery Networks International reporting to Mark. Greg is an enormously talented executive with vast experience in building and growing international media assets. Greg previously served as Chief Operating Officer at MTV International from 1996-2003.
DNI President Dawn McCall will be leaving the company. There are few people who have done more to build this great company than Dawn. She has dedicated the last 20 years to securing distribution for our brands and building Discovery’s businesses around the world. One of the biggest strengths for Discovery is our global infrastructure and Dawn has been the key executive in charge of the strategy and execution in creating such a strong and profitable business — not an easy challenge in today’s global market. The countless travel and endless meetings Dawn has had on behalf of Discovery over the years is a major reason why this company is so well positioned.
Adria Alpert-Romm will join Discovery as the new Senior Executive Vice President of Human Resources reporting to me. Adria is joining Discovery from NBCU where she led Human Resources for NBC TV Entertainment, and News. I have worked with Adria for many years. She will be a terrific leader for Discovery and will help build a performance culture that thrives on open debate and collaborative teamwork.
Human Resources Senior Executive Vice President Pandit Wright will be leaving the company. Pandit has been a foundation of Discovery’s senior management for the past 12 years. She has been a champion for employees and the leading force behind the nationally recognized LifeWorks program that has won so many awards for Discovery as a great place to work. She managed the company’s growth in human capital and recruited a talented and experienced workforce. Pandit also led the team in designing our corporate headquarters at One Discovery Place and was so influential in making Discovery such a respected enterprise across the media industry.
Discovery Education, under President Steve Sidel, will now report directly to Bill Goodwyn. Bill is being promoted to President, Domestic Distribution and Enterprises. Steve and his team have built a very significant asset for Discovery. The great distribution platform we have in unitedstreaming as well as the division’s other high-value subscription services provide a valuable pipeline into our nation’s schools. Along with our direct-to-consumer service, Cosmeo, digital education is right on brand for Discovery and can be a strong business over the long term. This move reunites a great team. Before moving over to Discovery Education, Steve worked with Bill in Affiliate Sales and was part of the extraordinary effort over the past 20 years of building the company’s affiliate revenue and securing distribution for all our brands. This is a big opportunity for Discovery, and with Bill, Steve and their talented teams, we can increase the financial performance and overall value of this business.
We will immediately begin a search among internal and external candidates to find the next head of Business Development. This role will centralize the operations of the corporate business development activity and lead the team devoted to analyzing and determining the growth priorities for DCI’s global assets. As the General Managers focus on building new media extensions for their brands, the head of business development will centralize, at the corporate level, the planning for acquisitions, joint ventures, and other potential partnerships in the digital and new media space.
Global Growth Strategy
Tom Wolzien has been retained as a consultant to work with senior management on Discovery’s overall global growth strategy and how to better clarify the company’s opportunities in digital television, the internet and new media platforms. Tom previously ran the media practice for Sanford C. Bernstein, where he covered Liberty Media, and brings to Discovery a keen outsider’s perspective as a former analyst and operator at NBC. We have known each other for over 20 years, and Tom will be very helpful in pushing forward on our growth agenda.
Joel Berman has been retained as a consultant to look at how to best monetize our library and develop what can be an aggressive syndication strategy for Discovery’s content domestically and around the world. Joel was most recently President of Worldwide Television Distribution for Paramount Pictures and CBS/Paramount Television, where he oversaw the sale of motion pictures and television programs as well as the production of first-run television programming.
These changes are substantial. The goal is to maintain Discovery’s leadership as the number-one nonfiction media company in the world, while clarifying responsibilities, improving financial performance, and ultimately creating more shareholder value.
Discovery Communications, Inc.
Discovery Communications, Inc. is the number-one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion people in over 170 countries. Through TV and new media, Discovery’s 100-plus worldwide networks include Discovery Channel, TLC, Travel Channel, Animal Planet and Discovery Health. DCI is owned by Discovery Holding Co. (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Cox Communications Inc., Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, Discovery’s founder and chairman. For more information please visit www.discovery.com.