Discovery awaits CBS exec

McKairnes ankles Eye after 13 years

Jim McKairnes, the No. 2 exec in the CBS scheduling/program planning department, is embarking on a voyage of Discovery.

After 13 years at the Eye, McKairnes is ankling the net at end of month to head up scheduling and program planning for Bethesda, Md.-based Discovery Networks. His new gig will give him oversight of sked moves for the cable behemoth’s dozen-plus analog and digital webs (Discovery Channel, TLC, etc.).

McKairnes will report to Discovery Nets prexy Bill Campbell.

“He’s one of those guys who lives and breathes programming,” Campbell said, adding that Discovery Networks has never had a sked guru to oversee all of its many program initiatives. Campbell said he sees the position, in part, as “air traffic control.”

“I need someone to help me, the G.M.s and our schedulers look at everything holistically. (It’s) almost an umbrella job,” Campbell said.

McKairnes, who was upped to senior VP at the Eye in 2003, is known in network circles for his uncanny ability to recall exactly when and in what timeslot just about any show aired — and not just recently, but stretching back a couple of decades.

Campbell and McKairnes aren’t strangers: They worked together when Campbell was at CBS in the 1990s. Another ex-Eye exec now at Discovery is sales chief Joe Abruzzese.

Individual sked chiefs at the various Discovery nets will continue to report to their respective general managers, Campbell said.

McKairnes has been at CBS since 1993, joining the network in the pre-Leslie Moonves era as manager of program planning, scheduling and current programming. He had previously been a freelance journo.

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