After weeks of speculation concerning a rumored large-scale shuffle, Discovery Communications announced today (Dec. 18) a major reorganization of its US networks, that will see brands ‘targeting similar viewer demographics and content genres’ grouped together.
The flagship Discovery Channel will be grouped with Science Channel, and led by acting president and GM Clark Bunting (pictured), who will be replacing John Ford. Bunting, a 24-year Discovery veteran, previously headed up Emerging Networks. He also previously served as the flagship channel’s GM, where he oversaw the development of assorted Discovery staple series including Deadliest Catch and MythBusters. Debbie Myers will continue as GM of Science Channel, reporting to Bunting. Discovery’s press release did not indicate Ford’s future plans.
Investigation Discovery (ID) is now to be grouped with Discovery’s male-targeted networks Military Channel and HD Theater, with Henry Schleiff as GM. Schleiff joined Discovery in August 2009, and will report directly to David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. Meanwhile, Planet Green is now grouped with female-targeted networks Discovery Health and FitTV, with Planet Green’s Laura Michalchyshyn as GM for the group. Part of Michalchyshyn’s remit now includes overseeing the transitioning of Discovery Health to the Oprah Winfrey Network. TLC and Animal Planet remain relatively untouched, headed by Eileen O’Neill and Marjorie Kaplan, respectively.
Current Discovery Health and FitTV general manager Carole Tomko will report to chief operating officer Peter Liguori, as president of Discovery Studios. Part of her responsibilities will include overseeing Discovery Studios’ production of the upcoming CURIOSITY: The Questions of Life.
‘Across our portfolio, Discovery’s U.S. networks have delivered solid ratings strength and revenue growth over the past year,’ said Zaslav in a statement. ‘With today’s announcement, we are recognizing the inherent operational efficiencies that exist between our brands and getting the most from the exceptional creative talent we have on our roster.’