Discovery Communications said company founder John Hendricks will retire as chairman of the board of directors and as a director, staying in those roles through the annual meeting of shareholders on May 16.
“Few words can appropriately convey what kind of person John is, or what he has meant to this company and the cable television industry overall," Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement. "He is a true visionary, a man of enormous integrity and one of the world’s great entrepreneurs. On behalf of the 5,600 employees of Discovery Communications, I want to thank John for all that he has done, and all that he has stood for, as founder and chairman of Discovery for more than 30 years, and believing the world needed a different kind of media company – a purpose-driven media company.”
Hendricks has served as chairman and founder of Discovery Communications, before and including the launch of the Discovery Channel on June 17, 1985. He stepped down as CEO in 2004 and remained chairman of the board. Hendricks notified the board of Directors by letter.
Hendricks created Discovery Channel as the first cable network in the United States to provide high-quality documentary programming enabling people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity, the company noted. He pioneered the launch of digital networks in the United States in the 1990s and launched the first 24/7 basic cable HD channel, Discovery HD Theater, in 2002.
He has been honored with a Primetime Emmy Award and with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences highest honor, the Governor’s Award, for conceiving the TLC series, Great Books, Discovery noted. The Ark Trust named him a recipient of the Genesis Award for lifetime achievement for his efforts in raising awareness around the globe about animal issues. Hendricks also has been recognized as the first corporate leader to receive the National Education Association's Friend of Education award for innovations in education and technology and greatly expanding educational opportunity for America's schoolchildren.