John Martin sure looks like Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes’ heir apparent with this move, which will put him in charge of Turner Broadcasting System on January 1. Currently Time Warner’s Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, he’ll replace TBS chief Phil Kent who has run the operation since 2003 and now will become the unit’s chairman “for a transition period,” according to today’s release. Bewkes says that Kent initiated the change. They decided that “now is the right time to announce the next generation of leadership.” There’s no mention, though, about how the change might affect David Levy, who’s TBS’ president of sales, distribution and sports — and was widely seen as Kent’s likely successor. Bewkes says that Martin “is one of the most capable and strategically minded executives I know” adding that he’s also “a broad and thoughtful business thinker whose inclusive management style and focus on driving the business forward will fit well with the Turner tradition.” The company says that it will name Martin’s successor “in the coming weeks.” Although Martin has extensive experience handling financial matters, this will be the first time he’ll run such a large creative enterprise. TBS also is at the center of Time Warner’s growth plans, especially after the company spins off its Time Inc magazines. The Turner networks — which include TBS, TNT, and CNN — are worth about $54.6B, or 60% of Time Warner’s current value with publishing, Sterne Agee analyst Vasilly Karasyov estimated last month.
Turner Broadcasting System has landed one of Europe’s top TV executives, Gerhard Zeiler, and is making him president of its international division. The announcement today comes hours after Zeiler stepped down as CEO of RTL Group, Europe’s largest TV production and broadcast company. As president of Turner Broadcasting System International, he will report to TBS Inc chairman and CEO Phil Kent and lead a 3,800-person division across Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Zeiler will have executive oversight for all entertainment and kids networks and media services offered outside of North America; the distribution and commercial operations of CNN’s international services; all of Turner’s international joint ventures; and all licensing and merchandising. Turner operates more than 130 channels in more than 30 languages in about 200 countries and operates versions of CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies, as well as country- and region-specific networks and businesses.