Like other executives who joined Turner-now a unit of Time Warner-at an early stage, Mr. Levy, 35, has risen quickly in his 11 years with the company. He began in 1986 as an account exec in the entertainment division and later helped set up the Turner Sports sales group before being promoted in 1994 to senior VP for ad sales in North and South America.
With the new international position, Mr. Levy's orientation suddenly widens from the Western Hemisphere to the entire world. Mr. Levy will now head up sales worldwide for CNN, TNT and the Cartoon Network.
"We want to give clients easy access to do global deals," he said. "We are centralizing our international ad sales as advertisers are demanding opportunities globally to take their brands worldwide. By having one central source, we can get that accomplished more quickly."
Mr. Levy has already made a mark in Latin America. Among his accomplishments is next month's launch of CNN en Espanol, a Spanish-language cable channel with distribution to more than 3.5 million subscribers and support from multinational advertisers, including IBM Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Chevron Corp.
Also, Mr. Levy took the initiative in starting a Portuguese-language version of the Cartoon Network last October for Brazil, the first country-specific feed for Turner International.
Mr. Levy's prior job has been restructured into two positions, splitting up North and South American responsibilities. Nick Loria has assumed the North American duties, while the search is on for a successor in Latin America.
TV IN HIS BLOOD
TV is in Mr. Levy's blood. His father, Rick, was in the syndication business and held posts at MTV, Camelot and Madison Green Communications. His stepmother, Leslie Lillien, was a promotion and creative director at Tribune Syndication and Group W. His sister, Susan, was a VP at Blair TV.
And Mr. Levy's wife, Niki, was in radio sales for WPAT in New Jersey before leaving that post to raise two young sons at their home in Purchase, N.Y.
"From the time he was 13 years old, he has said that he wanted to sell advertising time," said Rick Levy, who now has a consultancy called Levy TV. "I thought he was crazy and wondered why he didn't want to be an astronaut or play hockey, but he was very determined about it."
Mr. Levy faces a test of his abilities in his new role. Turner's international ad revenue has been growing by about 30% annually for the past few years, but the international TV ad business is still fledgling.
At Turner, international revenue accounts for less than 10% of the system's total ad revenue of $1.5 billion. About half of that international revenue originates from U.S.-based clients with multinational marketing campaigns. Mr. Levy will seek more business from European, Asian and Latin American marketers.