Discovery Shakes Up Management Team as Scripps Merger Nears Finish Line

Kathleen Finch will oversee 12 networks, while Jon Steinlauf heads up U.S. ad sales

Scripps’ execs Kathleen Finch and Jon Steinlauf will take on major roles in the combined company, while Discovery president Rich Ross is leaving. Sources: Getty Images
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As the Discovery Communications-Scripps Networks Interactive merger reaches the finish line, Discovery is shaking up its management team, putting key Scripps execs in charge of the combined company as it unveiled its new leadership structure.

Kathleen Finch, chief programming, content and brand officer for the six Scripps networks, will be chief lifestyle brands officer of the combined company, overseeing 12 networks: HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel, Discovery Life, American Heroes Channel, Destination America, Great American Country and Lifestyle Digital Studio.

Meanwhile, Jon Steinlauf, the president of national ad sales and marketing for Scripps Networks, will oversee ad sales for the combined company, as chief U.S. advertising sales officer. He’ll lead the ad sales, consumer products and licensing efforts. Ben Price, Discovery’s president of U.S. ad sales, will report to Steinlauf, as will Leigh Anne Brodsky, evp of Discovery Global Enterprises.

TLC president Nancy Daniels will add oversight of Discovery and Science Channel, as chief brand officer, Discovery and Factual. She’s taking over for Discovery and Science chief Rich Ross, who is leaving the company after three years.

Howard Lee, who is evp of development and production for TLC and gm of Discovery Life, has been promoted to president and gm of both networks.

Several other Discovery execs will remain in their current roles. Henry Schleiff will still head up Investigation Discovery, Destination America and American Heroes Channel, reporting to Finch, while Erik Logan continues as president of OWN, and Susan Dinnage remains global president of Animal Planet.

Discovery’s CFO, Gunnar Widenfels, will be CFO of the combined company.

“Upon closing, each division will have a best-in-class leader focused on quickly integrating the combined teams to create new ways for advertisers and distributors to reach highly targeted audiences at scale; capturing operating efficiencies across both companies; and driving innovation to continue telling great stories and nourishing our passionate, loyal superfans around the world across every consumer screen, service and platform,” said Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav in a statement.

Discovery announced in July that it would acquire Scripps for $14.6 billion. The combined company will control close to 20 percent of the country’s ad-supported cable and satellite viewership—and many of the cable networks watched most by women—and help create a host of new digital offerings for the linear-heavy portfolio.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.