Burnett named MGM TV president, Khanna steps down

Survivor producer Mark Burnett (pictured, left) has been tapped as president of MGM Television and Digital Group, as Roma Khanna steps down from the role after four years. (Pictured, center and right: Gary Barber and Roma Downey)
December 14, 2015

Mark Burnett (pictured, left) has been named president of MGM Television and Digital Group, as MGM takes full control of United Artists Media Group.

The Survivor executive producer has signed a five-year contract with MGM, and will report directly to Gary Barber (center) chairman and CEO of MGM.

The appointment comes as MGM acquires the remaining 45% of stakes in its United Artists Media Group (UAMG) JV with Hearst Entertainment, Burnett and Roma Downey (right). That company will now be absorbed under the MGM Television Group umbrella.

Barber called Burnett’s leadership the “next step” in the quest to expand and grow the MGM television and digital businesses. “Combining all of our TV content efforts under the purview of this unparalleled chief is incredibly exciting. Additionally, we believe this synergistic transaction will be very accretive to MGM,” said the exec.

According to a release issued by MGM, Burnett and Downey will exchange their 23% interest in UAMG for 1,337,360 shares of MGM stock valued at US$90 per share. Hearst, meanwhile, will receive US$113.5 million in cash for their 22% interest. The deal will lead to the integration of UAMG’s and MGM’s television businesses and the consolidation of their operations.

The deal is expected to close at the beginning of 2016 and was valued based on the “original deal parameters” established in 2014 when MGM took a 55% stake in UAMG, less distributions.

A planned OTT channel is to operate as a separate entity controlled by Downey, Burnett, Hearst and MGM. Downey will also serve as chief content officer for the channel. In addition, she will serve as president of LightWorkers Media – which will be the faith and family division of MGM Television – reporting to Burnett.

In addition, Chris Ottinger has been upped to president of worldwide television distribution and acquisitions for MGM, reporting to Barber, while John Bryan, MGM’s president of domestic television distribution, will continue in his role overseeing domestic distribution.

“Demand for quality content is stronger than ever and the opportunities to grow our pipeline and develop projects from the wealth of intellectual property in the MGM and United Artists libraries are enormous,” said Burnett in a statement. “There is no better time to be creating premium content for distribution across multiple platforms.”

Meanwhile, Roma Khanna – who has served as president of MGM Studios Television Group and Digital since June 2011 – is stepping down from her role at the company.

“Roma has done a terrific job at MGM. We are thankful for her efforts in helping grow MGM and wish her much success in her future endeavors,” said Barber.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.