International Channel Networks president and CEO Kent Rice will step down effective Oct. 1 and will be replaced by executive vice president Steve Smith, who will assume the title of managing director.
Rice said he is leaving ICN -- where he has served as president since 1995, shortly after it was acquired by Liberty Media Corp. -- to pursue personal interests, including world travel.
At ICN, Rice oversaw the company’s growth from one ad-supported channel to 21 basic and digital pay TV channels. The company is also poised to launch a number of on-demand offerings through its recent purchase by Comcast Corp.
“My decision to move on has been planned for some time as part of my personal goals, but I wanted to ensure that I would be leaving the company at a time when it’s performing well, on the verge of new and exciting expansion, with new, strong and attentive owners and someone in place to step into my role to lead the company,” Rice said in a prepared statement.
“I commend Kent for building International Channel Networks into a leader in international and ethnic programming,” said Amy Banse, executive VP of Comcast's programming-investments division, in a prepared statement.
“His expertise built International Channel into a tremendous asset, and he will be missed,” Banse added. “Steve's extensive experience in the international-television industry will continue to drive the network's growth and keep ICN at the forefront of the multicultural-programming category.”
Smith joined ICN in February after previously serving as executive VP and chief operating officer for Starz Encore Group LLC’s Encore International. Smith was responsible for managing the long-term relationship between EI and China Central Television, as well as EI’s development throughout Asia and in the United States.
Smith said in a recent interview that International Channel will place more emphasis on Asian-American programming, which network officials believe will have appeal across a number of ethnic groups indigenous to the world’s largest continent.
Next month, the network will expand its “Asian Street” primetime block to three hours nightly.