Big Media's Year-End Reshuffle
Big media companies are in major reorganization mode as the year closes out, and reshuffling the deck is an annual ritual as contracts expire and senior executives decide whether they have the stomach for another tumultuous twelve months.
The overhaul is perhaps most pronounced at the Walt Disney Co. where the departure list includes top Washington D.C. rep, Preston Padden, who announced his departure December 14. Earlier this month, Mike Shaw, president of ad sales also said he was leaving.
Within the last few months, Disney CEO Bob Iger has been retooling the senior management ranks in bold ways, handing CFO Tom Staggs the parks and resorts and moving the head of that division, Jay Rasulo, into the top finance post. Elsewhere, Iger replaced studios chief Dick Cook with former Disney Channel Worldwide chief Richard Ross, who also wrought his own changes in the exec line-up.
Disney isn’t the only company saying goodbye to top talent. News Corp’s chief content guru, Anthea Disney, announced her retirement last week. The company’s newish chief operating officer, Chase Carey, joined the firm mid-year from DirecTV and is reviewing the firm’s operational needs. Carey has said that News Corp. needs to focus on its tent-pole franchises and hinted that the company wants fewer small cable channels. David Sternberg, EVP and COO of Fox Cable Networks, said he was stepping down November 30.
Discovery Communications parted company with international chief Greg Ricca after two years and upped COO Mark Hollinger to that position. Hollinger’s old post has been filled by former Fox Broadcasting chief Peter Liguori, who was named chief operating officer last week. Company CFO Brad Singer will also take on some of Hollinger’s former responsibilities, according to insiders.
Meanwhile MTV Networks parted company with programming czar Brian Graden and is also losing Lauren Carrao, programming president at Comedy Central.
And, of course, all eyes are on the executive suites at Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal to see who will get upped or poached given the merger of the two organization’s cable channel operations. The company just renewed NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker’s contract through till 2013.
There’s also a host of former senior executives who may yet resurface in 2010. Among them, former CBS Digital Chief Larry Kramer, now consulting for Discovery and Weather Channel and teaching a class at Syracuse; former CNBC No. 2 Jonathan Wald, now teaching at Columbia University; former Madison Avenue executive Jon Mandel, now advising private equity firms. The merger of A&E TV Networks with Lifetime also saw the exit of Lifetime’s chief financial officer, Jim Wesley, and public affairs EVP, Meredith Wagner.
ADverse–along with our friend Paige Albiniak at Fates & Fortunes–will be keeping an eye out for these and other high-level comings and goings.