MGM Names Mark Burnett President of Television and Digital Group

Mark Burnett  - S 2015
Courtesy of Rubenstein Communications

The 'Bible' producer signed a five-year contract to head the TV and digital group.

MGM is buying the portion of United Artists Media Group held by Hearst, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, while making Burnett president of MGM Television and Digital Group, the company said Monday.

The transaction calls for Burnett and Downey to exchange their 23 percent interest in UAMG for 1.34 million shares of MGM stock, valued at $90 per share while Hearst will receive $113.5 million for its 22 percent interest in UAMG.

The deal gives MGM complete ownership of UAMG, though a planned OTT channel will be a separate entity controlled by Downey, Burnett, Hearst and MGM.

"Burnett is one of the most successful producers in television and a highly sought-after executive in content creation," said MGM chief executive Gary Barber, to whom Burnett will report.

Burnett signed a five-year contract to head the TV and digital group, and his appointment will coincide with the closing of the ownership transaction, expected in early 2016.

Next year, MGM's TV shows include The Voice and Celebrity Apprentice on NBC; Survivor and The People's Choice Awards on CBS; and Shark Tank and 500 Questions on ABC.

As part of the restructuring, Roma Khanna has stepped down from her position as head of TV and digital while Chris Ottinger will be promoted to president of TV distribution and acquisitions for MGM. Downey will assume the position of president of LightWorkers Media, the faith and family division of MGM Television, and she'll be made chief content officer of the planned OTT channel.

Burnett and Downey were represented by Sidley Austin LLP, a law firm based in Chicago.