Incoming Discovery Channel president Rich Ross is making changes to the executive team he is taking over.
Dolores Gavin, EVP Development and Production, East has left the network. Her West Coast counterpart, Denise Contis, EVP Development and Production, West, will now oversee Discovery Channel’s entire development and programming slate originating from both the Los Angeles and Silver Spring, MD, offices as a No. 2 programming executive under Ross. While Discovery’s headquarters are in Silver Spring, the importance of the network’s satellite Los Angeles office is expected to rise under Ross who will be based there.
Contis, who had been at Discovery Communications since 2008, was promoted to EVP last year. She has overseen such Discovery Channel programs as Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda and Naked And Afraid. Gavin joined Discovery Channel in 2010 and was upped to EVP last year.
Additionally, Edward Sabin, COO of Discovery & TLC Networks, also is leaving. Under the new structure implemented with Ross’ arrival, Discovery Channel will have its own business unit as opposed to a shared one with TLC. Here is the internal note Sabin sent to the company staff announcing his departure:
I have enjoyed working at this company for the past 7-plus years. This is the smartest, hardest-working and most creative and strategic group I have been a part of, and I feel so lucky to have been able to learn from and contribute to it. My role as Group COO, which was created when Discovery Channel and TLC were under common creative leadership, has been challenging and stimulating in every way, allowing me to contribute to the most important assets of the company.
In light of recent management and structural changes in the leadership of the company, the opportunity to be across multiple businesses in an operational role is no longer available. As a consequence, the company and I have decided amicably to part ways. We are still discussing the timing and particulars around my departure, but have agreed it will happen… but not immediately, so you caRich Ross n expect to see me (and hear potty-mouth hip hop blaring from the speakers in my office) for some time longer!
I say this with mixed emotions because, while I am excited to embark on the next chapter of my career, I will be leaving behind friends and colleagues for whom I have immense respect and affection, from the most senior to the most junior levels.
Discovery has been a fantastic place for me, and I will treasure the time I’ve spent here.