Warner Bros Discovery Leadership Structure Set – Deadline

Ahead of tomorrow’s expected close of the $43 billion WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, the executive leadership structure of the new company has been set.

David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery since 2007, will hold the same title at the combined entity. He has installed JB Perrette to oversee streaming (in a larger version of the role he had at Discovery), while veteran unscripted programming exec Kathleen Finch will supervise all linear networks. Toby Emmerich, Casey Bloys and Channing Dungey, heads of Warner Bros Pictures, HBO and Warner Bros TV, respectively are all remaining in place. Bruce Campbell, the top distribution exec at Discovery (a crucial function given the billions in carriage fees and complex streaming deals in his purview) has been given a similar job at the new company.

The elevation of Finch, a Scripps Networks Interactive veteran and former network news producer who joined Discovery after the company bought Scripps in 2018, had been widely anticipated. She headed the ranks of a deep roster of unscripted and reality execs at Discovery, who will likely exert considerable influence in the new entity.

Deadline reported a month ago that the senior brain trust of Discovery would fill the new company’s senior management ranks, making today’s official announcement no real surprise. Many members of Zaslav’s senior team, including Perrette, also worked alongside him at NBC.

The appointments follow an exodus earlier this week of several senior-level WarnerMedia execs, including CEO Jason Kilar, streaming chief Andy Forssell and studio and networks chairman Ann Sarnoff. While the idea of ​​a Kilar equivalent in the new structure has long been abandoned, there are questions about whether a new exec will assume a role similar to Sarnoffs, looking after both the movie and TV studios. Zaslav has indicated he intends to be hands-on, though he has never overseen such vast real estate in the scripted realm.

AT&T, which acquired Time Warner for $85 billion in 2018 and rebranded it WarnerMedia, decided to exit the entertainment business just three years later. In May 2021, AT&T CEO John Stankey and Zaslav stunned the industry by revealing their stealthily negotiated proposed combination.

Cost savings are a prevailing factor in all determinations on the new company’s exec structure. Discovery has pledged to extract $3 billion in savings from the new entity and will face pressure from Wall Street to reduce its debt load, which will be in the tens of billions.

Perrette, who was president and CEO, Discovery Streaming and International, will take on the role of CEO and President, Warner Bros. Discovery Global Streaming and Interactive Entertainment. He will have responsibility for HBO Max and Discovery+, as well as all direct-to-consumer and gaming around the world. David Haddad, President Warner Bros. Games, will report to Perrette.

Gerhard Zeiler will be president of international, the same role for WarnerMedia. For direct-to-consumer and international content distribution strategy, Zeiler and his team will have a dotted line to Perrette, per the official announcement.

Finch will have a newly created role of Chairman and Chief Content Officer, US Networks Group, a new, consolidated organization comprising the company’s more than 40 US Networks. Nancy Daniels, Chief Content Officer, Discovery Factual Networks, will report to Finch, as will Brett Weitz, General Manager, TBS, TNT and truTV, and Tom Ascheim, President, Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, on the network side of his responsibilities. Finch will retain oversight for the Discovery Lifestyle Networks.

Campbell will assume the new role of Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer, with responsibility for US advertising sales, distribution revenue and content licensing; global corporate development and strategy; global streaming platform agreements; and the company’s legal affairs. He previously served as Discovery’s Chief Development, Distribution and Legal Officer.

Among the Warner vets, Dungey is continuing as Chairman of Warner Bros. television group; Bloys continues as Chief Content Officer of HBO & HBO Max; and Emmerich continues as Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, with responsibility for Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, DC-based films and Warner Bros. Feature Animation.

The other Discovery veterans coming aboard Warner Bros. Discovery include Gunnar Wiedenfels, who will continue as Chief Financial Officer; Savalle Sims, continuing as General Counsel, reporting to Campbell; Lori Locke, Chief Accounting Officer, reporting to Wiedenfels; and Adria Alpert Romm, Chief People and Culture Officer.

David Leavy will be Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, overseeing corporate relations, global government relations and public policy, corporate marketing, global communications, corporate research, events and social responsibility.

Another key operational figure is not a Discovery holdover: Chris Licht, formerly of CBS and MSNBC, was appointed chairman & CEO of CNN Global after the departure of Jeff Zucker earlier this year.

“We are so excited to bring the heritage and legacies of these two great companies together by creating Warner Bros. Discovery, and I am proud that our new executive management team blends world-class leaders from both organizations as we take our first step toward one single cohesive, collaborative culture,” Zaslav said. “Today’s announcement combines a strong team of professional managers in a simpler organizational structure, with fewer layers, more accountability and a singular strategic focus as a global pure-play content company. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves with this team so that, together, we can write this next exciting chapter.”

  • Adria Alpert Romm will serve as Chief People and Culture Officer, having held the same role at Discovery, Inc.

  • Bruce Campbell will assume the new role of Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer, with responsibility for US advertising sales, distribution revenue and content licensing; global corporate development and strategy; global streaming platform agreements; and the company’s legal affairs. He previously served as Discovery’s Chief Development, Distribution and Legal Officer.

  • Toby Emmerich continues as Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, with responsibility for Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, DC-based films and Warner Bros. Feature Animation.

  • Kathleen Finch will assume a newly created role of Chairman and Chief Content Officer, US Networks Group, a new, consolidated organization comprising the company’s more than 40 US Networks. Nancy Daniels, Chief Content Officer, Discovery Factual Networks, will report to Finch, as will Brett Weitz, General Manager, TBS, TNT and truTV, and Tom Ascheim, President, Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, on the network side of his responsibilities. Finch will retain oversight for the Discovery Lifestyle Networks.

  • David Leavy will be Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, overseeing key business functions and groups, including corporate relations, global government relations and public policy, corporate marketing, global communications, corporate research, events and social responsibility.

  • Lori Locke will serve as Chief Accounting Officer, a position she held at Discovery. Locke will report to CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, whose role was previously announced.

  • JB Perrette, formerly President and CEO, Discovery Streaming and International, will assume the role of CEO and President, Warner Bros. Discovery Global Streaming and Interactive Entertainment, with responsibility for HBO Max and discovery+, as well as all direct-to-consumer and gaming around the world. David Haddad, President Warner Bros. Games, will report to Perrette.

  • Savalle Sims will continue as General Counsel, a position she held at Discovery, reporting to Campbell.

  • Gunnar Wiedenfels will continue as Chief Financial Officer, as previously announced. In addition to overseeing finance, he will have oversight of the Company’s global enterprise technical operations as well as real estate and facilities.

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