Judith McHale to become Discovery CEO in June

MUMBAI: The brains behind Discovery Communications - founder and chairman John Hendricks - is stepping down as the company's CEO. Company president and COO Judith McHale will assume that role.

In a board meeting held yesterday Hendricks stated his desire that the CEO and chairman positions be separated. He will continue to serve as the company's chairman. McHale will assume her new position from 17 June. She joined the organisation in 1987 as general counsel. She has been serving as president and COO since 1995.

In a company release, Hendricks made the following remarks about the decision. " I incorporated Discovery at age 30 in 1982. During 2002, 20 years after incorporation, I began to consider a new management structure in which I could continue to provide strategic leadership by developing and overseeing an ambitious growth agenda at the board level. I strongly believe that I will be best able to focus my energies on further corporate expansion by relinquishing my daily chief executive officer duties.

"For some time now I have believed, in terms of modern corporate governance, that the skill sets and passion of a founding entrepreneur are best channeled through a chairman role. This is after a company has successfully navigated the challenges of early development and has clearly established a market leadership position within 20 years of the company's founding."

The company added that McHale has led DCI's development in television, advanced media, on-line and retail services. Her leadership in expanding DCI's television services included the acquisitions of TLC in 1991 and the Travel Channel in 1997, the launches of Animal Planet in 1996 and the Discovery Health Channel in 1999, and the development of six targeted channels.

During her tenure she also developed strategic partnerships around the world including DCI's global alliance with the BBC, and a major joint venture with The New York Times Company to co-own the Discovery Times Channel.

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