De Mol drops 2 exec titles

Company gets creative in Endemol revamp

AMSTERDAM — John de Mol has stepped down as chairman-CEO of Endemol, the global production outfit he co-founded, and has appointed company vet Aat Schouwenaar in his place.

Monday’s exec swap allows de Mol to concentrate on Endemol’s creative side, something he has wanted to do since Spanish telco Telefonica bought the company for $5.3 billion three years ago. At that time, he took the title of chief creative officer to underscore that wish, a title he will keep along with a seat on the board.

In Schouwenaar, De Mol has upped a trusty lieutenant. Schouwenaar has been vice chair of the board since September 2000, and before that was chief operating officer.

Time for change

Schouwenaar is the right man in the right place, de Mol said. “Several years ago I realized that he was best suited for this job, but at the time he was not interested. Fortunately all that has changed. With the future secure, I can devote myself to the things that I am good at, which give me the most pleasure, devising ideas that will benefit Endemol as an international group of companies.”

However, Endemol’s future within Telefonica may not be so secure.

The telco is selling off its media assets: It already has unloaded Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 to the Planeta & DeAgostini groups and has handed control of satcaster Via Digital to Sogecable.

Vote of confidence

But Endemol may be an exception. Telefonica prexy Cesar Alierta has assured top management that he regards its content as vital to the telco’s ambition to distribute TV programming to fixed-line and cell phone clients.

It also may have trouble finding a buyer who could put up the enormous asking price.

De Mol currently heads his brainchild, Endemol’s Central Creative Unit, which develops content for television and other platforms.

He is considered the driving talent behind Endemol, a factor that could weigh heavily if Endemol were ever sold or if he decided to go out on his own when his noncompete clause is up in October 2005.

(John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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