MIPCOM: Discovery CEO David Zaslav Celebrated as Personality of the Year

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David Zaslav

The executive made an impassioned plea for environmental activism.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav made an impassioned plea for the environment and conservation as he was named MIPCOM’s Personality of the Year.

The executive behind Animal Planet and the website The Dodo also spearheaded Project Cat, with the network's foundation buying up 1 million acres of land in India and Bhutan to conserve tiger habitats in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund.

Zaslav said television executives can push for change.

“We tell stories and those stories have an impact, stories that we take around the world are more powerful than armies,” he said, earning a standing ovation from the crowd.

He noted that there are only 3,400 tigers left in the world and the land acquisition is trying to give them a safe and protected habitat to help them recover.

“The most pressing issue that we do face is the issue of animal extinction, and it’s something that I want to dedicate myself to and to dedicate our channels to,” he said, citing the company’s The Dodo website that reaches 2.5 billion views per month and targets millennials.

“This is our legacy. We can’t underestimate the impact of the stories we tell,” he said. “And we can’t just put our stories on platforms, we have to try to do something ourselves,” he said. “We have to dedicate ourselves to trying to make a difference. What impact can we have?”

He was celebrated in a video with Ron Howard, Tom Brokaw, conservationist Jane Goodall and Oprah Winfrey. The TV mogul praised him for using his position to make people "better and more curious about the world."

Zaslav, an avid tennis fan, was presented his award by tennis great Boris Becker.