Turner Broadcasting Boosts Koonin


Turner Broadcasting is giving a big boost to current TNT/TBS chief Steve Koonin, adding to his oversight Court TV and Turner Classic Movies. Koonin, who has successfully rebranded and led TNT and TBS over the past six years as Executive VP/COO, now becomes president of Turner Entertainment Networks, reporting to Turner Entertainment Group President Mark Lazarus.

Giving Koonin oversight of Court TV resolves the network's corporate leadership structure which, at least publicly, has been in question since Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting took over the network last May. Time Warner bought out business partner Liberty, Court CEO Henry Schleiff quit, and network veteran Art Bell was named COO. But Bell left that position within weeks.

Koonin will now pick up the lead role at Court and have as direct reports the network's programming/marketing GM, Marc Juris, and its EVP of daytime/news programming Marlene Dann. Rounding out his bouquet of Turner's cable entertainment networks, Koonin will also now oversee TCM, the ad-free, classic movie channel. Reporting in to him there will be TCM EVP/GM Tom Karsch.

A branding pro who spent 14 years at Coca-Cola, Koonin joined Turner in Feb. 2000 and eventually revamped each network with new branding; he molded TNT into a home for dramatic programming with the tagline "We Know Drama" and TBS into a comedy hub with the tagline "Very Funny."

Under Koonin, TNT has triumphed, most notably with its record-breaking original drama The Closer, and TBS has forged into original series programming of its own - new comedies My Boys and 10 Items or Less are slated for Nov.

After Bell’s departure, Lazarus and Turner Chairman/CEO Phil Kent determined over the summer to cluster the four cable networks together under Koonin.

The move will allow Lazarus to focus on bigger-picture issues that cut across the four networks as well as Turner’s Cartoon Network and Boomerang channels and other departments, such as new technology, and building or buying new businesses, Lazarus says.

“Housing these four businesses under one strong leader was the smartest way to deploy the assets of Turner,” he says. With Koonin and Kent, Lazarus will now devote more time, day to day, on “the strategy and vision for how we evolve our company over time,” he says.

Koonin says that while the mission he began with at TNT/TBS is different from that he has now at Court and TCM, the objective is the same: to grow the brands and expand the networks on multiple platforms.

“What I’m looking to do is enhance the value of Court TV and TCM and to be a resource and an instigator of growth for them to help them grow their businesses more than maybe they would’ve done on their own,” he says.