UPDATE, 2/8/12: Gerhard Zeiler, chief executive of RTL, Europe’s largest broadcaster, is stepping down after close to nine years at the helm, and moving to head up Turner’s international division.
At RTL, he will be succeeded by Guillaume de Posch and Anke Schäferkordt. De Posch, currently chief operating officer of RTL Group, will take over responsibility for its broadcasting operations outside Germany, and the company’s production business. Schäferkordt will continue to manage the group’s German TV business in addition to her new role as co-CEO.
In a statement, RTL Group said the change will come into effect from the company’s annual general meeting on April 18.
“On behalf of all shareholders and the entire RTL Group Board, I thank Gerhard Zeiler for his outstanding achievements in his 13 years at RTL and nearly nine years as CEO of RTL Group,” said Siegfried Luther, chairman of the RTL Group board of directors. “Under his excellent management, RTL Group has become the undisputed number one free-to-air TV company in Europe, and a globally renowned brand for popular, high-quality television.”
“I’m deeply grateful for my wonderful years at RTL Group, with a great team of passionate managers and an ever-supportive board of directors and shareholders,” said Zeiler. “The decision to leave was not an easy one, but on the other hand I look forward to a new, international task.”
That new task was announced a matter of hours later by Turner Broadcasting System chairman and CEO Phil Kent. Zeiler has been named president of Turner Broadcasting System International, the company’s global portfolio of branded television networks and related businesses and will lead a team of 3,800 across Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. He will report directly to Kent.
In his new role, Zeiler will oversee all entertainment and kids networks and media services offered outside of North America; the distribution and commercial operations of CNN’s international services; all of Turner Broadcasting’s international joint ventures; and all activity in licensing and merchandising.
“This move is an opportunity to help grow some of the most valuable media brands in the world and develop new businesses alongside people I admire, like Phil and colleagues across Time Warner I have known and worked with over the years,” said Zeiler of his new post. “This is an exciting time for our industry and for Turner Broadcasting, and I believe in our ability to lead and succeed.”
“We are delighted that Gerhard is joining us and look forward to the leadership, perspective and wealth of international television experience he will bring to one of the most successful and most strategically important areas of our company,” said Kent.
Zeiler joined RTL in 1998 as CEO of RTL Television in Cologne and was responsible for the German RTL family of channels. He was named CEO of RTL Group in 2003.
The company, which also owns global producer FremantleMedia, has 47 television stations and 29 radio stations in 10 European countries. Bertelsmann AG has been the majority shareholder of RTL Group since the summer of 2001. In July of 2010, RTL sold Channel 5 in the UK to publishing magnate Richard Desmond.