NEW YORK — Lifetime prexy and CEO Douglas McCormick will leave the women’s cable web when his contract expires at year’s end.
Though Lifetime has been very profitable for its joint owners, Disney/ABC and Hearst, the two companies decided to look for a new prexy who would bring more programming “vision to the channel,” said one source.
A Lifetime spokeswoman refused to comment for this story.
Sources close to Lifetime said the network’s staffers were dumbfounded by Hearst and Disney/ABC’s decision not to renew McCormick’s contract.
Once source noted that since McCormick took over as the network’s president five years ago, profits have increased four-fold and ratings have increased more than 100%. This year, Lifetime has achieved its highest ratings.
News of McCormick’s departure spread last Wednesday, the day after Geraldine Laybourne formally announced she has teamed with Marcy Carsey and Oprah Winfrey to launch the Oxygen Channel, which will compete with Lifetime for female viewers.
However, the potential threat of the Oxygen Channel had no impact on the decision not to renew McCormick’s contract, said sources.
“It would have happened with or without Oxygen,” said one source.
Before forming Oxygen Media earlier this year, Laybourne was prexy of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, where she chaired Lifetime’s 10-member board. Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney Channel and Laybourne’s replacement as head of Disney/ABC Networks, inherited Laybourne’s post as chair of Life-time’s board.
McCormick, a longtime Lifetime employee, rose through the ad sales ranks to become chief executive of the women’s channel. McCormick beat out Pat Fili-Krushel, who was then Lifetime’s programming chief, for the top Lifetime slot. After heading daytime programming for ABC, Fili-Krushel was named prexy of the network this year.
ABC and Hearst were said to be talking to several candidates to replace McCormick. If Lifetime’s owners wish to promote from within the web, executive VP Jane Tollinger and senior VP of programming & production Dawn Tarnofsky would be the leading candidates.