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King World exex to retire

News reignites consolidation speculation

King World announced Monday that two of its vet execs — King World domestic TV sales prexy J. Stuart Stringfellow and King World Intl. prexy Fred Cohen — will take early retirement.

The Gotham-based execs will attend the National Assn. of TV Program Execs confab in Las Vegas at the end of the month.

After NATPE, Gotham-based King World senior VP-general sales manager of domestic syndie and cable sales Joe DiSalvo will assume Stringfellow’s duties, while L.A.-based Armando Nunez Jr., CBS Broadcast Intl. prexy-CBS Enterprises exec VP, will assume Cohen’s duties. DiSalvo’s and Nunez’s titles remain the same for the time being.

Consolidation questions

It’s unclear whether Stringfellow and Cohen will seek to remain in the industry, though consolidation on both the domestic and international fronts has vastly reduced the number of top jobs.

However, news of the two exits did reignite speculation about possible consolidation of CBS/King World and Paramount efforts.

Since King World merged with CBS Television, and then CBS merged with Par-owner Viacom, insiders have wondered aloud whether combining Par’s and King World’s staffs might be in the offing. Much of King World’s and CBS’ operations already have been integrated.

One Gotham-based TV exec said he was not surprised that Stringfellow was retiring, as “everyone at those companies has to be looking at the future, anticipating a consolidation, even if it’s not immediately.”

“This could be the beginning of what may ultimately be an integration of the two domestic operations or at least their coming under one management,” the exec said. “But is this an immediate sign of that? I’m not sure you can read it that way.”

Stringfellow is a 17-year veteran of King World, having joined in 1985 to open its Chicago sales office. He rose to exec VP of domestic TV sales, based in New York, and then was named prexy of the division in 1997. He has overseen day-to-day operations of the King World sales force, charged with syndicating the company’s programming to TV stations across the country.

Franchise game pro

Stringfellow successfully launched several King World franchise shows and maintained them at a time when the industry has been going through dramatic changes. “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy,” “Inside Edition” and “Hollywood Squares” continue successful runs, and the King World domestic sales staff is considered among the best in the biz.

Cohen is a 13-year vet of King World, having joined in 1989 as prexy of King World Intl. He has overseen the worldwide distribution of King World properties and international ventures, having sparked and overseen the overseas sale and production of King World gamer formats.

In 2000, following the merger of King World and CBS, Cohen assumed the additional title of exec VP of CBS Broadcast International.

“Stu and Fred have been building blocks in the very foundation of King World,” Roger King, chairman of CBS Enterprises and King World Prods., said in a statement announcing the exits. “They’ve been instrumental in guiding our company to the preeminent position it holds today, and I’m tremendously grateful to them for their exceptional service and their personal friendship.”