Rich Ross to Exit Discovery, Combined Leadership Team in Place


Discovery Communications has made senior leadership appointments for the combined company once the Scripps Networks Interactive transaction closes, with Rich Ross planning to exit and Kathleen Finch taking on a large portfolio.

Ross, currently group president of Discovery Channel and Science Channel, will be leaving the company. Nancy Daniels, currently the president of TLC, will assume the new role of chief brand officer for Discovery and factual, effective immediately, leading all aspects of the Discovery Channel and Science Channel brands. 

Finch, currently the chief programming, content and brand officer for all six Scripps Networks brands, will become chief lifestyle brands officer for the combined company. She will take on management oversight of HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel, Discovery Life, American Heroes Channel, Destination America, Great American Country and Lifestyle Digital Studios in the U.S.

Henry Schleiff will continue as group president for ID, Destination America and American Heroes Channel. Howard Lee, currently executive VP of development and production for TLC and general manager of Discovery Life, will be the new president and general manager for TLC and Discovery Life, effective immediately. Both Schleiff and Lee will report to Finch upon the closing of the transaction.

Gunnar Wiedenfels, currently serving as Discovery’s chief financial officer, will become CFO of the combined company. Jean-Briac “JB” Perrette, currently the president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, will continue in that role, tasked with driving the combined company’s global expansion.

Bruce Campbell, the chief development, distribution and legal officer of Discovery, will continue in that role for the combined company. The combined outfit’s linear, nonlinear and mobile distribution efforts in the U.S. and Canada will be led by Eric Phillips, the president of affiliate distribution, reporting to Campbell. Discovery’s general counsel, Savalle Sims, will retain that role for the combined company, also reporting to Campbell. Adria Alpert Romm, currently chief human resources and global diversity officer for Discovery, will continue in that role.

Jon Steinlauf, president of national ad sales and marketing for Scripps Networks, will become chief U.S. advertising sales officer for the combined company. Ben Price, currently president of U.S. ad sales for Discovery, and Leigh Anne Brodsky, currently executive VP of Discovery Global Enterprises, will report to Steinlauf.

David Leavy, Discovery’s chief corporate operations and communications officer, will continue in that role for the combined company. Discovery’s John Honeycutt will be the combined company’s chief technology officer, continuing to report to Leavy.

“Today’s announcement is another major milestone in combining these two fantastic companies into a new kind of media company with the most trusted portfolio of real-life entertainment brands in the world,” said David Zaslav, the president and CEO of Discovery. “Upon closing, each division will have a best-in-class leader focused on quickly integrating the combined teams to create new ways for advertisers and distributors to reach highly targeted audiences at scale; capturing operating efficiencies across both companies; and driving innovation to continue telling great stories and nourishing our passionate, loyal superfans around the world across every consumer screen, service and platform.”