Discovery said it had extended the contract of its CEO, David Zaslav, through 2027, ensuring the executive would be in place well after the proposed merger of the company and WarnerMedia is expected to be completed in the middle of next year. Zaslav’s previous contract ran through 2023.
The company, which operates Food Network , HGTV and TLC among other outlets, said Zaslav’s contract was extended as part of the agreement between AT&T and Discovery to combine WarnerMedia with the latter.
Now most of Wall Street and Hollywood wants to know which executives will form the merged company’s executive team. Speaking at a conference Monday, Zaslav and AT&T CEO John Stankey offered no details about the future of current WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar — a move that has raised fervent speculation that senior executives at WarnerMedia may not have a place at the new entity.
Zaslav relies on a small handful of senior executives at Discovery, and has been known to get very involved with issues about which he cares intensely. That can lead to churn among senior programming executives and others. At present, Discovery’s top operating executives include Gunnar Wiedenfels, the chief financial officer; JB Perrette, CEO of international operations; David Leavy, the chief corporate operating officer.
WarnerMedia executives may wonder if there will be a place for them as the companies work to merge. Under AT&T, WarnerMedia replaced top operating executives at Warner Bros., Turner and HBO, as well as at the company’s ad sales division.
One senior WarnerMedia executive seems to be in some demand. There have been indications executives would like Jeff Zucker, the chairman of WarnerMedia’s news and sports operations, to stay — even though Zucker previously indicated he intended to leave at the end of 2021. Zaslav and Zucker know each other. Both previously held senior roles at the company now known as NBCUniversal. What’s more, Zaslav’s daughter, Ali, is a Washington-based producer for CNN.