Warners melds TV output units

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With less than three weeks until NATPE's annual confab kicks off in Las Vegas, Warner Bros. has consolidated its two domestic TV distribution divisions, tapping Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution president Ken Werner to oversee the combined unit.

The move will combine WBDTD and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution into a single entity that will take the former's moniker. Werner, who has been president of WBDTD since August 2006, will keep his title.

Meanwhile, WBDCD president Eric Frankel is leaving the company as a result of the consolidation. Frankel, a 28-year Warners veteran, had been in his current post since 2001.

WBDTD and WBDCD had been responsible for sales of the same first-run syndicated programs, off-network programs and feature films, with WBDTD selling to local television stations and WBDCD dealing with pay, cable, satellite and broadcast networks. The move to consolidate the two divisions puts all domestic sales activities under one banner, similar to how the other major distributors are structured.

"In the last few years, the markets served by our two divisions have evolved into one marketplace," Warner Bros. Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum said. "It is clear that having two domestic distribution units in an environment of blended distribution windows is neither financially prudent nor strategically smart."

A Warners spokesperson emphasized that there are no other major layoffs anticipated at this point. Most of the back-room support areas — such as marketing, publicity and research — already are shared with the other Warners TV divisions.

Rosenblum gave praise to Werner and Frankel.

"They've done fantastic jobs in leading their respective divisions, and I am grateful to them both," Rosenblum said. "I've known and worked with Eric for many, many years and will miss working with him day in and day out. He has been a key member of our senior leadership team, and we sincerely appreciate his significant contributions to our success."

Frankel said he has enjoyed his time at Warners but already is looking ahead.

"It's been a stimulating, exciting and successful 28 years playing a significant role in the ever-changing media landscape," he said. "As a person who embraces change, I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my career."

Under Frankel's leadership, WBDCD has struck deals for theatrical titles from such franchises as Harry Potter, Batman and Superman as well as long-term output deals with TBS, Oxygen and AMC. Frankel also closed deals for hundreds of high-profile series, including "ER" and "The West Wing."

Meanwhile, Werner said he's looking forward to his new post.

"The formation of a single domestic distribution unit will allow us to maximize our marketing efforts across all platforms, provide us with broader and more cohesive insight into what our clients need and help us to better coordinate our approach toward new markets, technologies and revenue opportunities," he said.

Since joining Warners in 2006, Werner has orchestrated five major programming sales deals in the first-run and off-network syndication marketplaces, including the sales and launch of freshman magazine "TMZ." He also negotiated the renewal of "The Tyra Banks Show" along with a long-term partnership with the NBC Universal Television Stations that includes "Extra" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
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