Discovery Communications announced a realignment at its US networks portfolio. Missing from the new management structure is long time Discovery Channel President/GM John Ford. Clark Bunting is now Acting President/GM of Discovery Channel and Science Channel under the changes announced Friday by Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav.
“Across our portfolio, Discovery’s US networks have delivered solid ratings strength and revenue growth over the past year. With today’s announcement, we are recognizing the inherent operational efficiencies that exist between our brands and getting the most from the exceptional creative talent we have on our roster,” said Zaslav. The company announcement said the new structure is designed to maximize content development, programming, promotional and operational efficiencies by grouping brands targeting similar viewer demographics and content genres under common leadership.
Under the new structure, Discovery Channel and Science Channel will be grouped together under the leadership of long-time Discovery Communications executive Clark Bunting as acting President and General Manager. Bunting is a 24-year veteran of Discovery, most recently serving as President and General Manager of Emerging Networks. He also previously served as General Manager of Discovery Channel. Firday’s announcement said grouping these networks, which occupy complementary genres and appeal to many of the same viewers, in one unit will enable the company to better leverage and more closely coordinate development, scheduling, content library and marketing efforts across both networks. Debbie Myers will continue as General Manager of Science Channel, reporting to Bunting. John Ford will be leaving the company.
Investigation Discovery (ID) now will be grouped with male-targeted networks Military Channel and HD Theater, under the leadership of General Manager Henry Schleiff. Schleiff joined Discovery in August 2009 and has focused on developing a slate of new content for ID continuing its recent performance as one of the fastest growing ad-supported cable networks. Schleiff, the company said, will bring a fresh approach to maximizing the full potential of the Military Channel, now reaching 55 million homes, and HD Theater, one of the leading HD channels in the US, now reaching approximately 30 million homes. Schleiff will report directly to Zaslav.
Planet Green will now be grouped with female-targeted networks Discovery Health and FitTV, under the leadership of General Manager Laura Michalchyshyn. Michalchyshyn joined Discovery in February 2009 and has been overseeing Planet Green. She will now assume the additional responsibilities of leading Discovery Health through a smooth transition to OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, continuing the brand and audience strength at FitTV, as well as unveiling a new slate of programming for Planet Green in 2010.
Current Discovery Health and FitTV General Manager Carole Tomko will report to Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori as President of Discovery Studios.
Bunting and Michalchyshyn will continue reporting to Zaslav. Eileen O’Neill and Marjorie Kaplan will continue in their roles as President and General Manager of TLC and Animal Planet, respectively, also reporting to Zaslav.
In other organizational changes announced at the company on Friday: Government Relations/Public Policy and Standards and Practices, led by Senior Vice President Alexa Verveer, will now report to David Leavy, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Communications. Aligning these functions will ensure that there is a cohesive strategy and common voice when addressing key external constituencies. Executive Vice President David Kline’s Enterprise Operational Services group will now fall under Chief Financial Officer Brad Singer. Working directly with Singer, Kline will keep Discovery at the forefront of new technologies and continue to help the company realize efficiencies across the business and around the world.
“We are extremely fortunate at Discovery to have an incredible portfolio of brands and an exceptional pool of talent at all levels.I am confident that the changes announced today will enable us to further strengthen our content pipeline, build a more efficient operational structure, and better exploit the company’s valuable beachfront real estate,” said Zaslav.