Discovery Communications is casting a wide net in its hunt for a replacement for CEO Judith McHale. While there’s a short list of insiders—including Discovery Networks U.S. President Billy Campbell and Senior Executive VP of Operations Mark Hollinger—headhunters from Spencer Stuart are working through a long list of media executives outside the company.
Among those contacted in recent weeks are Fox Networks Group President/CEO Tony Viniquerra; ex-Nickelodeon Networks Chairman Herb Scannel; ex-MTV Networks President and current Interpublic Media President Mark Rosenthal; and former Court TV President Henry Schleiff (who’s likely headed to the Hallmark Channel, see page 3). None have bitten.
But many Discovery insiders will be surprised by one flat-out "No"—Landmark Communications President/CEO Decker Anstrom. Even senior company executives have assumed that Anstrom was the top candidate because of the relationship he forged with Discovery’s owners—Liberty Media, Cox Communications and Advance Newhouse—during his years as president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
But Anstrom wants that speculation to end: "I like my job. I am not a candidate, not interested."
For other candidates, the lure of riches if Discovery goes public, as expected, may be offset by the deal-breaking stipulation that the CEO live near Discovery’s Silver Spring, Md., headquarters.
Says an industry executive familiar with the search, "They don’t want a CEO commuting to their family in L.A."