On the heels of moving to go public, Discovery Communications created a chief operating officer position and named longtime executive Mark Hollinger to the role. He will report to president and CEO David Zaslav.
Hollinger has most recently overseen the company’s international and commerce divisions; its corporate operations, such as information technology, corporate communications and business affairs; and its legal and government affairs.
As COO, he becomes the company’s No. 2 executive, adding responsibility for its Discovery Studios division and its internal content production and overseeing the COOs from its individual businesses.
His appointment comes after Discovery shareholders John Malone’s Discovery Holding and Advance/Newhouse Communications said in December that they will combine their stakes in a deal to create a new holding company for the Bethesda, Md.-based media conglomerate.
That move capped a year of sweeping changes Zaslav has made at Discovery in the United States and abroad. He overhauled the company’s corporate structure, recently dismissing Discovery Channel president Jane Root; cut some 26% of its work force; closed its retail stores; trimmed corporate-operations teams; and laid plans to rebrand its Discovery Home Channel as eco-themed network Planet Green.
In an interview, Hollinger said his appointment represented not a “light-bulb moment,” but rather an official acknowledgement of the various duties he has had over the past year. His priorities, he added, remain the same as they have been: to ensure that the company runs as efficiently as possible.
“I see myself as someone who is there to help [the company’s executives] navigate the bigger world of DCI and someone who can help coordinate from business to business to make sure we’re all pulling in the same direction,” he said.
“Today’s announcement codifies what has been the reality for a long time: Mark is the operational leader of this company,” Zaslav said in a statement. “Mark is one of the most talented and innovative strategist across the media industry and embodies the values, integrity and passion at the heart of why Discovery is such a trusted and reliable organization.”
He added, “As chief operating officer, Mark will lead our efforts to operate Discovery in the most efficient and effective manner possible and support a strong creative culture that produces the highest-quality nonfiction content. His fluency in the domestic and international businesses and his overall experience will be critical as Discovery prepares for the next step in our long-term growth strategy.”
Hollinger has been with the company since 1991 when he joined as vice president and deputy general counsel. He helped to launch Discovery Channel Asia after being named its acting general manager in 1994. After his return, he moved up the executive ladder, adding responsibilities for international business development, business affairs, production management and corporate operations over several years. He was senior executive VP, corporations and general counsel from 2003-07 and most recently president, global business and operations.
Before joining Discovery, he was an entertainment lawyer at Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison in New York.