Turner sheds management layer

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UPDATED 1:52 p.m. PT Jan. 15

Turner Entertainment Group president Mark Lazarus is leaving the company as part of a reorganization that will see top executives Steve Koonin, David Levy and Stuart Snyder take on additional responsibilities.

Turner said the shake-up is intended to "more closely align operating functions within business units," but it also removes one layer of upper management: Koonin, Levy and Snyder, who had reported to Lazarus, will now report to Turner Broadcasting chairman and CEO Phil Kent.

"For some time now, Mark and I have been talking about the future structure of the company," Kent wrote in an e-mail sent to Turner employees Tuesday. "In the new structure that I have decided upon, there was not a role of scale that Mark was interested in."

He added that Lazarus will leave Turner "in the coming weeks."

Lazarus joined the company in 1990 as an account executive with Turner Broadcasting Sales and worked his way up the ranks to hold such positions as president of Turner Sports and president of Turner Entertainment Sales and Marketing. He was named president of Turner Entertainment Group in 2003.

Kent credited Lazarus with playing key roles in the rebranding of TNT and TBS, the acquisition of Court TV and its rebranding as truTV, the development and launches of Internet comedy portal Super Deluxe and Atlanta-based broadcast platform Peachtree TV and content agreements with the NBA, NASCAR and the Professional Golfers' Assn.

For his part, Lazarus said that he is looking forward to the next chapter in his career.

"I feel a great sense of pride in what we have accomplished in my 18 years at Turner Broadcasting," he said. "Leading and managing a group of people and a portfolio of businesses, we have achieved innovative success in the sports, entertainment and kids arenas for both television and the digital market."

Meanwhile, Koonin, Levy and Snyder are expanding their responsibilities.

Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, is responsible for TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies and truTV. Along with his oversight of programming, marketing, scheduling, strategy, operations and other core business functions, he now adds advertising sales and marketing for those properties and Peachtree TV, which launched in October.

Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting Sales, will lead sales strategy and operations across the Turner's entertainment, animation and news networks and businesses, working closely with Koonin, Snyder and CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton. He continues to oversee ad sales for sports and entertainment digital businesses and remains president of Turner Sports.

Snyder, now president and COO of Turner Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media, overseeing Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim and their digital extensions. He also oversees GameTap, Super Deluxe and the division's animation production facilities in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

"These changes further empower three executives whose respective and collective businesses are critical components of our company," Kent said.
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