Turner Broadcasting System has landed one of Europe’s top TV executives, Gerhard Zeiler, and is making him president of its international division. The announcement today comes hours after Zeiler stepped down as CEO of RTL Group, Europe’s largest TV production and broadcast company. As president of Turner Broadcasting System International, he will report to TBS Inc chairman and CEO Phil Kent and lead a 3,800-person division across Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Zeiler will have executive oversight for all entertainment and kids networks and media services offered outside of North America; the distribution and commercial operations of CNN’s international services; all of Turner’s international joint ventures; and all licensing and merchandising. Turner operates more than 130 channels in more than 30 languages in about 200 countries and operates versions of CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies, as well as country- and region-specific networks and businesses.
Zeiler has run RTL Group since March 2003 and helped grow it to its current 41 channels and 31 radio stations in 10 countries. Along the way he spearheaded taking American Idol and America’s Got Talent to the the U.S. via RTL’s content production arm Fremantle Media. He also was a board member at RTL parent Bertelsmann AG. “His programming success; entrepreneurial experience within a big company; ability to run multiple lines of business; deep understanding of the digital landscape and opportunity; relationships across the media landscape; and passion for the television business combine in a great international partner for me, an exciting leader for the division and a strong addition to our executive committee and the company overall,” Kent said in the release announcing the hire.
Meanwhile, RTL Group said Zeiler is leaving Aprill 18. Anke Schäferkordt, CEO of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, and RTL Group board member Guillaume de Posch will take over running RTL with CFO Elmar Heggen. Schäferkordt also was appointed to replace Zeiler on the Bertelsmann board, the first woman to hold that position.