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Discovery restructures US nets

Discovery Communications has placed Rich Ross into a networks group president role as it realigns its US channels structure.

Rich-Ross-NEW_400Ross, who joined Discovery at the turn of the year as president of Discovery Channel, is now group president of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel.

Discovery has grouped the channels together as it believes they have “strong missions, shared programming genres and complementary yet distinct audiences”.

It placed Ross in charge after strong ratings growth in his first six months at Discovery Channel and a renewed focus on classic documentary programming such as the upcoming Racing Extinction.

The promotion means Animal Planet general manager Rick Holzman and Science Channel chief Rita Mullin now report to Ross.

Holzman previously reported to Marjorie Kaplan, who was last week appointed to the new post of president, content for Discovery Networks International.

Elsewhere, Discovery Life Channel is being integrated into the female-skewed TLC network, with TLC executive VP, development and production Howard Lee assuming responsibility for DLC as general manager. Lee now reports to TLC GM and EVP Nancy Daniels.

Current DLC GM Jane Latman is moving to become GM of American Heroes Channel in addition to retaining her senior VP, development duties for Investigation Discovery.

Henry Schleiff will remain group president of ID, AHC and Destination America, with ID chief Kevin Bennett and Destination America boss Marc Etkind keeping their posts.

David ZaslavMeanwhile, Bob Scanlon has been named GM of petrol-head channel Velocity and automotive content.

The final element of the restructuring sees the newest Discovery network, Discovery Family Channel, now going through the family and kids content division.

DFC GM Tom Cosgrove now reports to Discovery Latin America and US Hispanic Group chief Carolina Lightcap.

“This strategic realignment positions Discovery well to drive our content engine across platforms here in the US and worldwide, and creates the strongest pairings of creative talent to develop, program and lead these new brand groups now and into the future,” said Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav (pictured right).

“I believe some of Discovery’s best stories are yet to be told and I look forward to the growth and further development for each of our US brands for years to come under this team’s strong creative leadership.”

The changes are effective immediately.