Execs Named To Startup Network From Participant Media

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Participant Media named executives in programming, marketing and business affairs roles to spearhead the summer 2013 launch of a new, to-be-named cable network targeting millennials

Kent Rees (pictured) has been named executive vice president, marketing, scheduling & operations; Belisa Balaban is senior vice president, unscripted programming, and Ben McLean is SVP, legal affairs & business development. Based in Los Angeles offices, Rees and Balaban will report to Evan Shapiro, president, Participant Television. McLean will report to both Shapiro and Participant Media COO Jeff Ivers.

Shapiro said in a release: "We are fortunate to have such talent and vision on the team as we build to our launch next summer.  As we work to create a next generation TV experience, we sought out the next generation of industry leadership. That is what we get with this team.”

Rees, who will be responsible for creating marketing strategies and operations for both Participant Television and TakePart TV (Participant’s recently launched impact focused YouTube Channel), was head of marketing at Bedrocket Media Ventures. There, he spearheaded three “Made For Web” channel launches on YouTube. Prior to that, Rees was EVP, marketing, for Current TV, where he oversaw the marketing and was responsible for the network’s on-air promotion and brand personality. Before Current, Rees worked at IFC TV, where he rose from creative director to senior vice president, marketing. His oversight included managing the IFC brand across all platforms and he was the chief architect behind the network’s “Always On. Slightly Off” rebranding in 2010. Shapiro was president of IFC and Sundance Channel before joining Participant for this TV venture.

Belisa Balaban, responsible for spearheading production, development and talent deals for Participant Television’s unscripted and semi-scripted content, is a highly-regarded, Emmy and Grammy nominated producer who has created multiple socially relevant TV projects over the years, including The Swell Life, a 10-episode documentary series following the Paskowitz family raising their child with autism, Participant said in the release.  Earlier in 2012, she developed and produced the Emmy-nominated special, It Gets Better, inspired by the anti-bullying project for LGBT youth, which aired on MTV and Logo.  As co-founder of Snackaholic she executive produced pilots and series, including Tabloid Wars for Bravo and Bollywood Hero, a three-hour musical comedy for IFC. Earlier she oversaw and developed pilots and series for Actual Reality Pictures including Freshman Diaries for Showtime, Military Diaries for VH1 and Thin for HBO Documentary Films. Her previous work includes a stint in comedy and alternative programming at WB and Comedy Central where as an executive she developed a wide range of projects including Strangers with Candy and The Upright Citizens Brigade.

Ben McLean, Participant Television's SVP, legal affairs and business development, will oversee legal activities and developing business opportunities for the company's television division.  McLean was previously at Netflix, where he helped direct the company's legal efforts for their recent video streaming service launches in the U.K. and Scandinavia. Prior to Netflix, he worked for almost five years in a variety of business affairs positions at AMC Networks and Sundance Channel. McLean began his legal career at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York, after first serving as a Human Rights Legal Consultant for UNICEF in Dhaka, Bangladesh.