New York -- In the first Lifetime Television management
shakeup since Carole Black came on board as president, three top executives have left the
Jane Tollinger, the No. 2-ranked Lifetime official and
executive vice president; Barry Kresch, senior vice president of research and marketing
services; and Mary Pat Ryan, senior vice president of marketing, all left during the past
Some sources predicted that there are more changes and
departures to come. No replacements had been named for the three exiting executives last
Tollinger and Kresch were Lifetime veterans, having been
there since its inception in 1984. As such, they were part of the old regime of Douglas
McCormick, who left in January after the network's board opted not to renew his contract.
Ryan was a relative newcomer to Lifetime, joining last
September from U.S. Satellite Broadcasting, where she was an executive vice president.
Black officially replaced McCormick in late March, and she
hadn't made any major changes until the exits of Tollinger, Kresch and Ryan.
The departures of Kresch and Ryan from marketing roles
leave Black free to pick her own team to oversee that function, and marketing will be of
key importance as Lifetime faces two new rival women's networks: Geraldine Laybourne's
Oxygen and Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s new service. Both will debut next year.
"[Kresch's and Ryan's jobs] are used to position the
channel," said Ellen Oppenheim, senior vice president and media director at Foote,
Cone & Belding. "This indicates that Black wants to make some changes. Lifetime
has the burden to maintain its heritage in the women's arena."
Tollinger, reached at home last week, declined to comment
and referred all questions to Lifetime. Neither Kresch -- who is slated to win an upcoming
CTAM award -- nor Ryan could be reached for comment.
Lifetime senior vice president of public affairs Meredith
Wagner said last week that the network -- which is owned by The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst
Corp. -- doesn't comment on personnel changes.
As for the trio who left, Wagner said, "We wish them
all well. They made a lot of contributions to Lifetime."
Only last month, Tollinger was at the National Show in
Chicago with broadcast-alumni Black, a veteran of KNBC in Los Angeles. Tollinger made the
rounds with her new boss, introducing her to cable-industry officials at various parties
After McCormick left Lifetime in January, Tollinger's name
had surfaced as his possible successor, but Black got the job. As executive vice
president, Tollinger oversaw Lifetime's business affairs, public affairs, affiliate
relations and human resources.
Several sources said Lifetime has some fundamental problems
in the affiliate-sales area, and the network is not getting high enough license fees from
some major MSOs.
Lifetime is now the dominant women's network, with 73
million subscribers. In the second quarter, it was No. 1 for all key women's demographics
for total day.
But Lifetime's primetime-household rating dropped 13
percent in the second quarter, to a 1.4, compared with a year ago, according to Nielsen
Media Research. In total-day for households, Lifetime was up 11 percent, to a 1.0.
Black might restructure and consolidate marketing, which
was oddly configured at Lifetime. For example, although Kresch was in charge of research,
he also did some media buying for the network.
Black will make her first appearance for Lifetime at the
Television Critics Association summer tour later this month in Pasadena, Calif.