News

Ford to Exit Discovery

2/10/2003 1:33 AM Eastern

Another member of the old guard at Discovery Networks U.S. is leaving with
the resignation of John Ford, president of new media.

Ford, a 13-year Discovery veteran, will exit the programming company
effective Feb. 14.

Ford, who has no immediate plans, said he has loved working at Discovery,
which he described as "Camelot."

But he added that it was time to leave.

"It's for private reasons, my own," Ford said. "It's a good time for me to
move on. I didn't expect I'd come out of Discovery feet-first in a coffin ever,
anyway. I've been at Discovery 13-and-a-half years, had five jobs and done three
different start-ups."

During his tenure, Ford reaped big success with a relaunch of The Learning
Channel and the rollout of Discovery Health Channel.

Most recently, as president of new media, Ford oversaw the debut of Discovery
HD Theater.

His responsibilities also included Discovery Interactive TV, Discovery.com
(www.Discovery.com) and Discovery's
video-on-demand services.

Prior to that, Ford was also president of Discovery's content group for 18
months, overseeing programming for all of Discovery's domestic networks.

When Johnathan Rodgers left as president of Discovery Networks last March, many people considered Ford a shoo-in to replace him.

Instead, Discovery went outside the company to Hollywood and last May
recruited Billy Campbell -- an ABC and CBS veteran programming executive -- for
Rodgers' job.

With Campbell on board, Discovery's programming, or content, essentially fell
under his wing.

As a result, in August, Ford was switched over from his post as president of
the content group to become president of new media.

Ford said his parting now is amicable and denied that it had anything to do with
Campbell being brought in as president.

"Not getting that job wasn't the big motivating factor for me to leave the
company," Ford said. "It's been awhile, and I've been doing some really exciting
stuff ... I like Billy Campbell. He likes me. We get along really well."

Ford was put in charge of relaunching TLC after its
acquisition by Discovery in 1991, and the success he achieved there is his
proudest accomplishment, he said.

In 1999, Ford launched Discovery Health Channel and discoveryhealth.com (www.discoveryhealth.com), and in 2001,
the company acquired its rival in that genre, News Corp.'s The Health Network, which Ford
considered a big victory.

In addition to Rodgers, during the past few years, Mike Quattrone, general
manager of Discovery Channel; his wife, Kathy Quattrone, GM of
Discovery Health; Jana Bennett, TLC's GM; and Charley Humbard,
GM of Discovery's digi-nets, all left.

But Discovery countered that in the past year, it has recruited not only
Campbell, but Vivian Schiller, a veteran of Cable News Network, and Joe
Abruzzese, CBS' former head of ad sales.

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!