Turner expands Koonin domain

 Adds TCM, Court TV to duties

Steve Koonin, who oversees the Turner Broadcasting cable networks TNT and TBS, is adding oversight of Turner Classic Movies and Court TV to his responsibilities as the newly named president of Turner Entertainment Networks.

In his new role, Koonin will continue to build on the success of TBS and TNT while also working to strengthen TCM and Court TV's brands and expand their reach into the digital world, including broadband and wireless.

Three execs will report to Koonin as part of the restructuring: Marc Juris, general manager of programming and marketing at Court TV; Marlene Dann, executive vp daytime and news programming at Court TV; and Tom Karsch, executive vp and general manager at TCM.

Koonin, who is based in Atlanta, reports to Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group, who called the executive an "inventive, talented, accomplished leader" and noted his success in rebranding TNT with its "We Know Drama" positioning and TBS under the "Very Funny" tagline after having joined Turner in 2000.

Lazarus said the shifting of Court TV under Turner Broadcasting after parent Time Warner bought out Liberty Media's 50% ownership in the channel in May was a "catalyst" for the restructuring, and added that putting Court TV and TCM "under one roof" alongside TNT and TBS, two of cable's top-rated networks, will help ensure their "continued growth" on linear and digital platforms.

"As our business is growing, this is the best way to group our assets and put the best practices to work for each network in a common framework where we can utilize and share resources as a way to leverage the networks' reach and scale," said Lazarus, who will continue to oversee Cartoon Network and its sister nighttime network Adult Swim.

Koonin, who was executive vp and chief operating officer of TBS and TNT, praised the executives running TCM and Court TV.

"The first thing I plan to do with the two new networks is be quiet and listen to the people running them," he said. "They have really done terrific jobs, and what I plan to be for the next period of time is a sounding board ? listen to what they are planning to do, wanting to do and hoping to do and help them create plans to grow their businesses at a faster rate than they've been growing."

Koonin said there aren't any plans for major shifts in programming direction at the networks but noted that Court TV is in development on several projects, both scripted and unscripted (the network last year announced its first foray into original scripted series with the upcoming John Waters-hosted " 'Til Death Do Us Part"). He added that TCM will continue to be dedicated to classic movies and will remain commercial-free.

Koonin also noted that the restructuring opens up cross-promotional opportunities among the networks, particularly TNT and Court TV, saying that "the audience between the two are transferable."

Court TV had been run by chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff, who became nonexecutive chairman after Time Warner's buyout and this month was named president and CEO of Crown Media Holdings. Last month, president and chief operating officer Art Bell also exited the network.

Under Koonin's leadership, TNT created the record-breaking crime drama series "The Closer," starring Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Kyra Sedgwick, and established production relationships with Steven Spielberg ("Into the West") and Ridley and Tony Scott (the upcoming CIA series "The Company"), among others. TBS, meanwhile, has begun creating its own scripted programming, with the comedy series "My Boys" and "10 Items or Less" set to premiere next month.

Before joining Turner, Koonin spent 14 years at the Coca-Cola Co., most recently as vp consumer marketing.
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