Discovery Hires Margaret Loesch to Run Kids Net

Discovery Communications has tapped former Fox Kids Network chief Margaret Loesch to serve as president and CEO of a new venture targeting the footy-pajamas crowd.

A joint initiative sparked by Discovery and the toy giant Hasbro, the as-yet unnamed kids’ network is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2010. Both parties announced plans for the channel back in April.

Per terms of the agreement, Hasbro will pony up $300 million for a 50 percent stake in a re-imagined Discovery Kids network, which will debut (under a new moniker) in some 60 million homes. The channel’s programming slate will be spun from classic Hasbro properties such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, Monopoly, Candy Land and Tonka.

After taxes, analysts expect Discovery will report a $200 million second-quarter gain on the sale of the Discovery Kids stake.

Loesch will assume her new post on August 17 and will be based in Los Angeles, overseeing all business and creative areas of the venture. She will report to the joint venture’s board of directors, which is composed equally of representatives from both companies.

In bringing on Loesch, the venture gains automatic cachet in the kids and family programming space. A 40-year TV veteran, her credits include the launch of Fox Kids Network, the creation of Hallmark Channel and spearheading Marvel Comics’ film production arm, Marvel Productions.

Loesch also has held positions at Hanna-Barbera Productions, The Jim Henson Group, ABC and NBC. Most recently, she co-founded The Hatchery, a media company that specializes in family fare.

Among the iconic kiddie series that Loesch has shepherded to the airwaves over the course of her career are: the Smurfs, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Muppet Babies, Animaniacs and Transformers.

Loesch characterized her new position as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” adding that the venture promises to delivery quality, family-friendly entertainment. “With Hasbro’s world-class brands and Discovery’s established distribution strength, we have the tools to … create a network and programming that will entertain, inform and truly resonate with viewers.”