Dressler to Depart Time Warner


Time Warner Cable programming executive Fred Dressler will soon take a seat on the bench as sources close to the MSO said its chief programming-rights negotiator is expected to retire at the end of the year.

Time Warner officials would not confirm Dressler’s imminent retirement, but sources close to the MSO, as well as network executives who’ve been in contact with Dressler, said he’ll leave the company after 30 years on the job. An official announcement could come as early as this week.

Sources inside the MSO said either of its two senior vice presidents of programming -- Lynne Costantini or Melinda Witmer -- could succeed Dressler. Former Adelphia Communications senior VP of programming Judy Meyka’s name has also come up as a possible replacement.

Dressler’s successor will report to senior executive VP Robert Marcus, who oversees the programming department.

Rumors about Dressler's departure have been floating throughout the industry for years.

Earlier this year, Dressler was rumored to be leaving Time Warner to take an executive position at upstart regional sports network SportsNet New York, which Time Warner co-owns with Comcast and Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. Dressler was intimately involved in securing distribution deals for the network, and he is said to have personally negotiated its Cablevision Systems deal.

Dressler has been one of the most influential MSO programming negotiators in the industry, and he is known in particular for taking a hard stance against rising sports costs. He was the driving force behind Time Warner’s 2003 launch of its digital sports tier, which includes such networks as CSTV, NBA TV and The Tennis Channel.

But the tiers are devoid of highly rated networks such as ESPN and the RSNs, and Dressler has been unable to convince NFL Network to launch on the tier. Sports-network executives said the tiers have failed to draw a sizable audience, averaging penetration of 10%-20%.

An NFL Network spokesman jokingly said, “Maybe Mr. Dressler can bring his failed sports tiers into retirement with him.”

News of Dressler's exit was reported in Sports Business Journal Monday.