Top execs depart due to reorganization
Billy Campbell is out as president of Discovery Networks U.S. in a massive shakeup engineered by David Zaslav, the recently appointed CEO of Discovery Communications.Other execs who will ankle in the wake of the reorganization are David Abraham, president-general manager of TLC; Dawn McCall, president of Discovery Networks Intl.; and Maureen Smith, prexy-general manager of Animal Planet. “Creating a lean and aggressive organization” is one of the goals, according to a statement by Zaslav. The changes start with the promotion of Jane Root to prexy-G.M. of the Discovery Channel. Root will also add the Science Channel to her portfolio. Zaslav is putting Animal Planet and Discovery Kids into an operation centered on family-oriented networks. Marjorie Kaplan gets a promotion to prexy-G.M. of Animal Planet Media and Discovery Kids Media. Root and Kaplan report directly to Zaslav, as do Pat Younge, president and general manager of Discovery Travel Media, and Len Tacconi, prexy of Discovery Health Media Enterprises. A programming exec will soon be hired by Zaslav to replace Abraham as president of TLC. These five execs will also take responsibility within their networks for production, marketing, new media, communications and research. They will work more closely with Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales for all the Discovery networks, and Bill Goodwyn, prexy of affiliate sales and marketing, whose main job is to clear the networks on cable and satellite. Both Abruzzese and Goodwyn will now report to Zaslav. Zaslav has promoted Mark Hollinger to president of global businesses and operations and hired Greg Ricca to run Discovery Networks Intl. as president and CEO. Ricca was chief operating officer of MTV Intl. from 1996-2003. Another new division is Discovery Studios, which will house the production and film units, as well as creative resources. Longtime Discovery exec Clark Bunting will become president of Discovery Studios. Also in the works is the Emerging Networks Group, which will run the Military Channel, Discovery Times Channel, Discovery Home Channel and Discovery HD Theater. Zaslav is searching both internally and outside Discovery for an exec to run this group. Zaslav has tapped Joel Berman, former president of worldwide TV distribution for Paramount Pictures and CBS/Par TV, to serve as a consultant to help Discovery sell its library in syndication both domestically and overseas. Another consultant will be Tom Wolzien, former media analyst for Sanford Bernstein, who’ll assist Discovery in devising a global strategy for digital TV, the Internet and new-media platforms.