March 4, 2019

WarnerMedia announces restructuring in wake of AT&T takeover

Former NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is joining WarnerMedia as the chairman of entertainment and direct-to-consumer, a new role that comes amid a broader restructuring of the AT&T-owned media company.

Greenblatt's portfolio will include HBO and and much of Turner, two divisions that were previously run separately.

John Stankey, WarnerMedia's CEO, said in a Monday morning memo that the consolidation "will provide us with the agility and flexibility needed to build our brands across a variety of evolving distribution models with a more coordinated approach to our original programming."

The announcement came a few days after the CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler, and the president of Turner, David Levy, said they would be stepping down in the coming weeks.

Greenblatt's WarnerMedia Entertainment division will include HBO, TNT, TBS, truTV, and the company's forthcoming streaming service.

CNN, another unit of Turner, is untouched in the reorganization. CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker will add oversight of Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, and AT&T's regional sports networks, putting him in charge of the company's live programming. His new division will be known as WarnerMedia News & Sports.

The remaining parts of Turner, like the Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies, will be folded into the Warner Bros. studio division. The studio's chief, Kevin Tsujihara, will remain in charge there.

Stankey's memo outlined a new "Global Kids & Young Adults business" within Warner Bros. He said the plan is to "create a robust and unique on-demand, licensing and consumer product business for kids and families."

The restructuring followed an appeals court's ruling that affirmed AT&T's takeover of WarnerMedia, previously known as Time Warner. The Justice Department had been suing to block the deal, but the legal clouds fully parted last week, freeing up AT&T to make more changes.

AT&T executives want to reorient WarnerMedia around a streaming mission in the same way that Disney and other media companies are trying to challenge Netflix.

Disney's deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox is expected to take effect later this month.

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