Discovery Promotes Three Top ProgrammersO'Neill put in charge of Discovery Channel, TLC 1/12/2011 04:27:41 PM Eastern
In a management restructuring at Discovery Communications,
three top programmers are being given additional responsibilities.
Eileen O'Neill, who had led TLC, was named Group President
for Discovery and TLC Networks, putting the company's two biggest networks into
a single business unit.
Clark Bunting continues as president and general manager of
Discovery Channel reporting to O'Neill, who will soon name a new general
manager for TLC, the company said. Until a new GM is named, TLC COO Edward
Sabin will be the network's acting GM.
Animal Planet chief Marjorie Kaplan was named president for
Animal Planet and Science Channel. Kaplan will continue to run Animal Planet
and Debbie Myers, general manager of Science Channel will report to Kaplan.
Henry Schleiff, now general manager of Investigation
Discovery and Military Network, will be in charge of the Emerging Networks
group, including Planet Green and FitTV. Laura Michalchyshyn, president and
general manager of Planet Green and FitTV will report to Schleiff.
The reorganization reduces the number of network executives
reporting to CEO David Zaslav.
"Over the past several weeks, I have evaluated how we can develop
the most dynamic creative processes, the most innovative leaders and the most
effective organizational structure to encourage risk taking across our
programming and marketing," Zaslav said in a memo to staff Wednesday. "This
core objective requires the very best creative leadership at the helm of our
U.S. brands, so I am expanding the roles for three of our top creative
Discovery's new joint venture networks, the Oprah Winfrey
Network and The Hub, continue to report to COO Peter Liguori.
The entire memo can be read below:
RESTRUCTURING AT U.S. NETWORKS: A MESSAGE FROM DAVID ZASLAV
As we kick off 2011, making Discovery the most creative media company in the
world continues to be my top aspiration, and our strategic goal remains the
same: moving Discovery from a company with the strongest distribution in the
world to a company with the best creative content as well.
Over the past several weeks, I have evaluated how we can develop the most
dynamic creative processes, the most innovative leaders and the most effective
organizational structure to encourage risk taking across our programming and
This core objective requires the very best creative leadership at the helm of
our U.S. brands, so I am expanding the roles for three of our top creative
First, I am proud to announce that Eileen O'Neill has been named Group
President, Discovery and TLC Networks, which will merge our two domestic
flagship channels into one new business unit. Clark Bunting will continue
to lead Discovery Channel as President and General Manager, reporting to
Eileen. In addition, Eileen will soon name a General Manager of TLC to
oversee day-to-day programming and production. Edward Sabin, TLC's Chief
Operating Officer, will serve as acting General Manager while a full search is
Secondly, Marjorie Kaplan will become President, Animal Planet and Science
Networks, overseeing this new business unit. Debbie Myers, General
Manager of Science Channel, will now report directly to Marjorie.
Finally, Henry Schleiff, President and General Manager of ID and Military
Networks, will assume new responsibilities for the Emerging Networks, Planet
Green and FitTV, with Laura Michalchyshyn, President and General Manager
reporting to him, while the company determines the strongest creative strategy
for these networks to realize their full growth potential in the future.
Eileen's 21-year track record at Discovery Communications is nothing short of
astounding. From Discovery Health Channel to Planet Green to TLC, each
network she led has been infused with creativity, innovation and content that
breaks through the clutter of the television landscape.
Her big, bold swings - Jon & Kate
Plus 8, 19 Kids and Counting, Sister Wives, and Sarah Palin's Alaska - in addition to beloved series Cake Boss and Say Yes to the Dress, have yielded strong ratings, brand awareness
and pop culture buzz. At every network, Eileen has made the programming,
processes and people demonstrably better. In less than three years, she
has transformed TLC and driven the network into the top 10 for women with an
incredible 31 series averaging more than 1 million viewers in 2010.
At Discovery Channel, there is a solid foundation to build upon and grow.
Over the past year, Clark had 22 series averaging more than 1 million
viewers and guided Discovery Channel to record ratings for Shark Week and the epic series Life.
Deadliest Catch marked its strongest season ever and the way Clark and the
team handled Captain Phil's passing made us all proud. New series Dual Survival, Auction Kings and Man, Woman, Wild have proven their
strength, and Gold Rush: Alaska is
the number one new series on Friday nights.
I am confident Eileen and the team will focus on making our biggest assets even
stronger and more successful, while operating at their full creative potential.
Since taking charge at Animal Planet in 2007, Marjorie has dramatically
repositioned the network into a more adult focused, competitive brand and
created multiple successful new franchise shows including the two highest rated
series in the network's history, Whale
Wars and River Monsters. Marjorie
is a proven creative and business leader and her stewardship has resulted in
28% growth since the rebrand and Animal Planet finished 2010 with the best
yearly performance ever among key demos while also ranking in top 30 among
At Science Channel, Debbie has launched more than 20 new series and delivered
eight straight quarters of viewership growth, with the annual Punkin Chunkin special delivering the
highest HH rating in channel history. 2010 was a year of record revenue
and ratings for Science Channel and Through
the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman was the network's highest-rated series
This new structure allows Debbie and Science Channel to emerge a bit from the
shadows of Discovery Channel. Marjorie and Debbie are both extremely
entrepreneurial and aggressive in brand strategy, and this pairing will
stimulate even more original thinking.
For our Emerging Networks Group, we want to infuse these high potential
properties with the most passionate and seasoned leadership team. Henry
has catapulted ID into a top 25 network in cable on many nights with hit series
like On The Case with Paula Zahn,
which earned the channel its first ever 1HH rating on Sunday night. In
her nearly two years with Discovery, Laura has worked to broaden the scope of
Planet Green and strengthen the network with original programming.
Henry's proven success with ID, paired with Laura's remarkable energy and
enthusiasm, will help us realize the next phase of growth for our beachfront
The goal with these strategic changes is to have all levels of the organization
infused with more creativity, innovation and risk taking, and to create a
leadership structure that gives our top talent the authority to push our brands
to their fullest. In addition, I believe this structure will streamline
decision making and boost creative collaboration. Under these executives'
strong guidance, I have no doubt that the best is yet to come for our U.S.
President and CEO