- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006


Silver Spring cable television network Discovery Communications Inc. said yesterday that it hired NBC executive David Zaslav as its new president and chief executive.

A committee led by Discovery founder John Hendricks chose Mr. Zaslav, the president of NBC Universal Cable, on Wednesday. He replaces Judith McHale, who steps down at the beginning of December. Mr. Hendricks will serve as interim chief executive until Mr. Zaslav starts in January.

Discovery, which owns the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet networks among others, selected Mr. Zaslav for his long cable-industry experience and to help the network move into digital media, said Discovery spokesman David Leavy.

Mr. Zaslav is the second top executive to announce plans to leave NBC in as many days. On Wednesday, Randy Falco, NBC Universal Television Group’s president and chief operating officer, was named head of AOL, media giant Time Warner’s Sterling, Va., Internet subsidiary.

Ties between Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Zaslav go back to the mid-1980s. Mr. Zaslav was a recent law school graduate when he helped Mr. Hendricks with distribution deals during the early days of the Discovery Channel, the company’s first cable network. The men also serve together on the board of directors of TiVo.

Mr. Hendricks said that Mr. Zaslav “is the perfect choice to steward the valuable stable of Discovery brands and guide our company into the global future.”

Mr. Zaslav joined NBC in 1989 after a career as a lawyer and law professor, working on the debuts of MSNBC and CNBC, as well as deals with DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner.

He became head of NBC Universal Cable in May.

Mr. Zaslav said it was a difficult decision to leave NBC, saying there was an “amazing team” at NBC Universal, citing NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright and NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker.

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