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As Changes Loom for Turner, Execs Eye Fox's Departing Reilly

Turner CEO John Martin Trying to Reverse Ratings Slump at Some Networks

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'The Last Ship,' coming up this summer on Turner's TNT
'The Last Ship,' coming up this summer on Turner's TNT

Kevin Reilly, the departing head of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, is among the executives Time Warner is considering to be president of Turner Entertainment Networks, a person familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Reilly, 51, said last week he would leave the Twenty First Century Fox unit by the end of June, following a drop in ratings. New York-based Time Warner is aiming to fill the post by year end, said the person, who sought anonymity because the deliberations are private.

Bringing in Mr. Reilly would add a veteran programming executive at Turner, operator of the TBS and TNT cable networks, along with TruTV, TCM and the Cartoon Network. TBS and Turner carry original shows including "Conan," "Rizzoli & Isles" and "Falling Skies," and are among the most-watched pay-TV channels, according to Nielsen data.

Mr. Reilly declined to comment, as did Jeff Matteson, a spokesman for Turner.

John Martin, the new chief executive officer of Turner Broadcasting, told employees to expect staff changes as the division works to come back from a ratings slump at some networks, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

"In the near term, we have challenges at some of our networks," Mr. Martin wrote. "In particular, some of our largest, most profitable and highest-profile networks have experienced ratings headwinds. This is not news to the people who work at these businesses, or for that matter to anyone who follows the business of television. For all of their programming strengths, their loyal fans and followers, their awards and recognition, their financial over-performance and everyone's continued great work on their behalf, their ratings performance has not kept pace with the competition or, just as important, with our own high expectations."

Reilly is among 20 or so potential candidates to replace Steve Koonin, the person said. Mr. Koonin left Turner in April to become chief executive officer of the Atlanta Hawks.

Variety reported in April that Michael Wright, president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies, is among the candidates.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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