As part of the announcement, the company also said Mr. Kellner would leave AOL Time Warner in the summer of 2004, marking another high-level defection from the struggling media giant.
A replacement at TBS has already been named: Philip Kent, who was formerly president of the CNN News Group until resigning in October 2001. Mr. Kent will oversee Turner properties including CNN; entertainment networks TNT, TBS Superstation, Turner Classic Movies and Cartoon Network; and Turner Sports properties, which include baseball's Atlanta Braves, basketball's Hawks and hockey's Thrashers.
The timing of Mr. Kent's appointment came sooner than expected, according to executives. The rush to ink a deal with Mr. Kent came as he was considering executive positions with other media companies.
Return to West Coast
Mr. Kellner became chairman-CEO of TBS in 2001. Executives say Mr. Kellner wanted to return his family to the West Coast, where he was based with the WB, from Atlanta, TBS's headquarters. Originally, he had wanted his Turner position to be based in Los Angeles, but he ended up commuting biweekly.
The WB has been without a chief executive since Mr. Kellner left; Jed Petrick is the broadcast network's president and chief operating officer and a possible successor when Mr. Kellner steps down next year. AOL Time Warner also formerly announced today that the WB became profitable in 2002.
The company has seen a number of top executives leave in recent weeks, including AOL Chairman Steve Case, Vice Chairman Ted Turner and former CNN chief Walter Issacson.