Turner exec Burke tapped for online news post

NEW YORK — William Burke, president of TBS Superstation and Turner South, was named president of news and information at Time Warner Digital Media, a nascent Time Warner unit meant to integrate the entertainment giant’s diverse assets online.

Time Warner will name Burke’s successor in his former post before week’s end. The leading candidate is said to be Brad Siegel, president of TNT and Turner Classic Movies, who would add Burke’s portfolio to his own.

A Turner spokesman declined to comment on the appointment except to say that “the talent pool here is very deep.”

Burke, 33, will take up his new post Oct. 4, several days after the scheduled launch of regional sports and entertainment network Turner South.

Web emphasis

In his new capacity, he will report to Time Warner Digital chairman and CEO Richard Bressler, formerly the parent company’s highly regarded chief financial officer. Bressler’s move to the helm of Time Warner Digital in July signals just how important TW’s sweeping Internet initiative is to the company. Bressler reports directly to Time Warner topper Gerald Levin.

Burke told Daily Variety that his mandate is working up a business plan “that will best utilize the various assets in news and information and apply them to this new media.” His focus will be on CNN and Time Inc.’s existing interactive news and information businesses.

He and Bressler both stressed that his new role entails no editorial responsibility and that the editors of CNN’s and Time’s news operations will continue to report to their existing management.

News portal launch

Burke’s first project is the launch of a news and information hub, or Web portal, but there’s no date fixed for the launch.

Time Warner is also working to develop four other hubs that aggregate its various businesses.

The company’s entertainment portal, called Entertaindom, is another work in progress headed by Jim Moloshok, prexy of Warner Bros. Online, that will incorporate Time Warner property Entertainment Weekly as well as Warner Bros.’ film, TV and music divisions.

The unit will likely appoint heads for the remaining three hubs –business, sports and lifestyle — by the end of the year.

Bressler called Burke, who has very little Internet experience, one of Time Warner’s “most talented young executives across the company” with an “outstanding track record in building highly successful businesses on a foundations of top-quality content.”

Burke joined Turner Broadcasting in 1992 as a director of business development. He helped launched Turner Classic Movies in 1994 and moved to TBS the next year.

(Marc Graser contributed to this report.)

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