Discovery's McHale Exiting

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After months of rumors that she would step down to get involved in politics, Discovery Communications President and CEO Judith McHale is leaving the programmer, saying that she wants to "participate more directly in discussion related to critical domestic and global issues." McHale spent nearly two decades at the company, first joining in 1987 as general counsel.

“As hard as it is to leave this outstanding company,” said McHale in a statement “I believe passionately that we all have an obligation to participate fully and actively in the civic life of the communities in which we live. Today, as a global society, we face enormous social and political challenges. Throughout my life and career, I have tried to do what I could to confront and understand these issues. Now I want to become more directly involved in working with others to find solutions.”

McHale is exiting as Discovery is struggling to recover from difficult ratings and financial period. Audiences for its core networks, Discovery Channel and TLC, have plunged over the past two years. While both are rebounding, their Nielsen scores are still far lower than they were two years ago. Domestic advertising growth has stalled and isn't expected to turn around any time soon.

Discovery plans a search for a replacement, saying it will consider both internal and external candidates. Chairman and founder John Hendricks will chair the search committee.

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