Big Changes at Planet Discovery

The cable goliath reorganizes leadership of its top networks, including Discovery Channel

Last Updated: December 18, 2009 @ 4:28 PM

Another day, another round of big news from Discovery Communications.

The cable giant has been making headlines on a nearly weekly basis lately. First, it was the delay of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network to 2011, along with word of a new executive overseeing the venture for Discovery. Then came word that ex-Fox chief Peter Liguori was joining.

Now, Discovery president-CEO David Zaslav has announced a complete restructuring of the company’s various units.

The biggest change is the exit of John Ford, who had been president and general manager of flagship network Discovery Channel. In his place, Clark Bunting will oversee both Discovery and Science Channel. (Debbie Meyers, who’s working at OWN, will continue as G.M. of Science.)

It’s an encore performance for Bunting, who helped develop shows such as "Deadliest Catch" during his last run as G.M. of Discovery.

Elsewhere at the Silver Spring, Maryland-based company:

–Guy-friendly Discovery networks Investigation Discovery, Military Channel and HD Theater will now report to G.M. Henry Schleiff. Schleiff joined the company in August.

–Female-centrics– the terminally ill Discovery Health (it’ll become OWN) and Planet Green now fall under the control of G.M. Laura Michalchyshyn (who also oversees FitTV.)

–Carole Tomko, who had been G.M. for Health and Fit, now will focus on running Discovery Studios. She reports to Liguori.

“Across our portfolio, Discovery’s U.S. networks have delivered solid ratings strength and revenue growth over the past year,” Zaslav said. “With today’s announcement, we are recognizing the inherent operational efficiencies that exist between our brands and getting the most from the exceptional creative talent we have on our roster.”