Blair, Abad to split oversight of Euro sales force

Warner Bros. is restructuring its overseas TV distribution management ranks in Europe in the wake of some executive transfers — and the rise of digital opportunities on the Continent.

Among the key changes, Warner Bros. Intl. TV Distribution vets Robert Blair and Jose “Pepe” Abad will split oversight of the European sales force and Alex Ogilvie will head business development and operations.

New structure follows the recent promotion and relocation of Simon Kenny, previously exec VP and managing director for Europe, to Burbank as prexy of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.

Revamp also reflects an announcement Wednesday that Christopher Law, currently U.K. managing director at WBITD, has obtained senior VP stripes, adding digital distribution to his responsibilities.

Warner Bros. Intl. TV Distribution has also named a new VP and general manager for Canada in Mickie Steinmann; elevated Nicky Wood to VP and added Scandinavia to her portfolio; and tapped Joanna Murchie to oversee sales efforts for the Czech Republic and Hungary.

These promotions were unveiled Wednesday by Warner Bros. Intl. TV prexy Jeffrey Schlesinger.

Though official revenue figures are hard to come by, Warner Bros., with several dozen new and returning primetime series, is reckoned the leading Hollywood distributor to TV outlets abroad.

The management shifts are effective immediately; most of the execs will debut in their new roles at the Mipcom TV trade show in Cannes in October.

Blair, who has managed WBITD’s Canadian sales efforts for the past eight years, most recently as veep-general manager for Canadian operations, has been promoted to senior VP, Northern Europe, and will relocate from Toronto to London to oversee the sales execs responsible for Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Benelux, Central and Eastern Europe, the Mideast and Africa.

Abad, a 10-year WBITD veteran who serves as senior VP and general director, Southern Europe, currently oversees sales efforts in Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus and will expand his purview to include France.

Ogilvie, previously VP of business development for Europe, has been named senior VP, business development and operations and will serve as the company’s chief management exec on the Continent.

Ogilvie joins Blair and Abad to form Warner Bros. Intl. TV Distribution’s senior leadership team for Europe. Blair and Abad will report to Schlesinger; Ogilvie will report to Ronald Miele, exec VP, business affairs.

Transitioning into the position vacated by Blair is Steinmann, who as VP-general manger for Canadian operations will relocate from London to Toronto, reporting to Malcolm Dudley-Smith, exec VP, sales and business development.

In her new role as VP, Wood will report to Blair; Murchie, sales director, Central and Eastern Europe, will also serve as WBITD’s point person for the Czech Republic and Hungary, reporting to Wood.

“These promotions perfectly exemplify our ongoing philosophy to promote from within by developing great talent and keeping them challenged,” Schlesinger said.

Meanwhile, in his new role, Law will spearhead the company’s initiatives in the digital distribution space across all platforms and devices.

“Chris’ new role fundamentally reflects the way our business is changing in the digital world,” said Josh Berger, exec VP and managing director of Warner Bros. Entertainment U.K. “By giving Chris responsibility for our linear TV business and the emerging digital business, it will enable us to respond more effectively to consumers and new and existing customers in the U.K. and Ireland.”

Law will report locally in London to Berger on all aspects of the British business. As his job relates to digital distribution issues, he will report to Kenny.

As regards traditional TV sales, Law will now focus his efforts solely on the U.K. and Ireland, where he will continue to license all WBITD programming to traditional TV and in so doing report to Blair.

Because of its substantial content for licensing abroad, which includes not only Warner product but also some New Line films (such as the “Lord of the Rings” pics) and some HBO series (including “The Sopranos”), WBITD fields the largest international sales force among the majors.

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