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Discovery Adds Root to Exec Lineup

4/04/2004 8:00 PM Eastern

Saying that it’s bolstering an “A-Team” of executives, Discovery Networks U.S. wants Jane Root to give a lift to Discovery Channel.

Root, who’s been the top programmer at United Kingdom broadcaster BBC2, becomes general manager of the Discovery Networks U.S. flagship. She succeeds Clark Bunting, who was promoted to the new post of executive vice president, Discovery Networks U.S., overseeing 10 networks.

Discovery Networks president Billy Campbell retains oversight of Discovery Channel, run by Root, and TLC, whose general manager is Roger Marmet.

Bunting will oversee the general managers of Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel, The Science Channel, Discovery Wings Channel, Discovery Home Channel, Discovery en Español, Discovery Kids, Discovery Times Channel and FitTV.

“Jane is someone who really is always willing to push the envelope and think out of the box,” Campbell said. “And I love that.”

She’s credited with reinvigorating BBC2 with fare like The Office, the first British sitcom to win a Golden Globe after it aired on BBC America; the comedy Coupling; and “event” television like Restoration and The Big Read.

Under Campbell, there’s been lot of upheaval in Discovery’s upper management, including the recent departures of Animal Planet general manager Michael Cascio and Discovery Health Channel general manager Bob Reid.

Campbell said he’d promised to hire an “all-American” team of “the best” executives, and Root fits that mold.

Root called Discovery “a fantastic opportunity” and “a great brand, recognized throughout the world. And it’s also a moment when the American cable market is really on the up and up.”

She added, “There’s a real synergy between the kind of risk-taking values I have and Billy has.”

Bunting will be taking a close look at Animal Planet, which he launched in his new role, Campbell said. “We really think that while Animal Planet is a channel [that’s] had record ratings, record revenues, [it’s] something we think we’ve just scratched the service in terms of its potential.”

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