More than TV
As CEO, Mr. Zaslav will be responsible for numerous operations, from a raft of flagship cable channels such as Discovery and TLC to the Discovery Store operation and an educational business. Mr. Zaslav, who will begin his new role in 2007, was not immediately available for comment.
Mr. Zaslav will face numerous challenges in his new position, but his most important role may be guiding Discovery Communications through the burgeoning digital era and improving the company's financial picture. Discovery Communications' cable-network revenue increased 10% in the third quarter to $469 million, though ad sales declined by 1% because of lower sell-out rates and a soft cable ad market. Distribution revenue increased by 18% for the period.
Discovery Communications has seen growth in ratings at the cable channels in recent quarters and has launched several spinoff businesses, including Discovery Travel Enterprises and Discovery Health Media.
Mr. Zaslav -- who is reported to have squared off for the post against the former director general of the BBC, Greg Dyke, and Discovery Network President Billy Campbell -- had a previous connection with the company. He had been a lawyer for John Hendricks, the company's founder-chairman, two decades earlier. Mr. Zaslav is also a director on the TiVo board.
"I have had the pleasure of knowing David for over two decades since he first helped me in the early days of Discovery as a bright, energetic young lawyer who enthusiastically embraced our brand and worked tirelessly on our key programming and distribution deals," Mr. Hendricks said in a statement.
Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holdings, Advance/Newhouse Communications and Cox Communications.