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Discovery president to leave in shake-up

February 06, 2007|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks, is leaving the company as part of a broad reorganization announced Monday by David Zaslav, the new chief executive of Discovery Communications Inc.

A former executive with Miramax Television, CBS Entertainment and Warner Bros., Campbell had sought the top job that went to Zaslav.

"I've really been lucky to work at Discovery. It's been a job of a lifetime," Campbell said. "I've had a good relationship with David, but he is the CEO and he deserves to run the company the way he sees fit."

Ratings are up at the company's key channels: Discovery and TLC. Campbell, who joined the company four years ago, said he would be gone by week's end.

Zaslav joined the Silver Spring, Md., company in January and wasted little time before reconfiguring the ranks. The former NBC Universal executive eliminated Campbell's position. Now, the general managers of the five network groups, including the Discovery Channel and Discovery Travel Media, will report directly to him.

"We need to take a hard look at our business structure and take out a number of layers so that we can put our resources on our brands, our programming and in new media," Zaslav said.

Two other key executives -- Maureen Smith, general manager of Animal Planet, and Dawn McCall, president of Discovery Networks International -- are stepping down. Marjorie Kaplan was promoted to general manager of Animal Planet and Discovery Kids Media.

In an unrelated move, the company said David Abraham, president of the TLC channel, was returning home to Britain to start a new job there.

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