Discovery sets post-merger leadership structure; Ross to exit

As Discovery Communications nears closer to its planned acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, the company is finalizing its senior leadership team for the combined company. As part of this shuffle, Rich ...
March 1, 2018

As Discovery Communications nears closer to its planned acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, the company is finalizing its senior leadership team for the combined company.

As part of this shuffle, Rich Ross (pictured, right), group president of Discovery Channel and Science Channel will be leaving the company.

Scripps current chief programming, content & brand officer Kathleen Finch (pictured, left) will become chief lifestyle brands officer for the combined company. She will oversee HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel, Discovery Life, American Heroes Channel, Destination America, Great American Country and Lifestyle Digital Studios in the U.S.

Elsewhere, Nancy Daniels, current president of TLC will take on the new role of chief brand officer, Discovery and factual, effective immediately. In her role, Daniels will oversee all creative and brand strategy, development, production, marketing and day-to-day operations for Discovery and Science Channel.

“Nancy is a winner, with a proven track record across Discovery Channel and TLC and a deep understanding of how to draw viewers and generate buzz,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery, in a statement, to whom Daniels will continue to report. “I am proud to have Nancy at the helm of our namesake and flagship brand, especially as we enter this exciting new chapter in our company’s history.”

Howard Lee, currently EVP, development & production for TLC and general manger of Discovery Life, will be the new president and GM for TLC and Discovery Life, effective immediately.

Henry S. Schleiff will continue in his role as group president for ID, Destination America and American Heroes Channel.

Both Schleiff and Lee will report to Finch upon closing of the transaction.

The news follows the announcement made Tuesday (Feb. 27) that the Silver Spring-based global network group had received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice in its planned acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive for US$14.6 billion.

“Upon closing, each division will have a best-in-class leader focused on quickly integrating the combined teams to create new ways for advertisers and distributors to reach highly targeted audiences at scale; capturing operating efficiencies across both companies; and driving innovation to continue telling great stories and nourishing our passionate, loyal superfans around the world across every consumer screen, service and platform,” added Zaslav.

Additional movements within the company are as follows:

Discovery Networks International president and CEO Jean-Briac Perrette will continue in that role, driving the combined company’s global expansion.

Discovery’s Bruce Campbell will continue as chief development of distribution and legal officer for the combined company. Reporting to him will be Eric Phillips, president of affiliate distribution. Phillips will be responsible for leading the combined company’s linear, non-linear and mobile distribution efforts in the U.S. and Canada.

Susanna Dinnage, currently global president of the Animal Planet network in the U.S. and Animal Planet brand worldwide, will continue in this role.

Erik Logan‘s role as president of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will remain untouched. He reports to the OWN Venture board of directors.

Finally, Karen Leever, currently serving as EVP and GM of digital media U.S., and Mike Lang, currently president of Discovery Networks International Digital and CEO for TEN/MotorTrend, will continue in those roles for the new company, reporting to Zaslav.

Current Scripps Networks executives not assuming roles in the company going forward will participate in the integration process following close to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities, Discovery said.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.