Less than two weeks after unveiling its ambitious Discovery+ direct-to-consumer play to investors, Discovery Inc said Monday that it has appointed BET founder Robert L. Johnson to its board of directors. The move is effective January 1.
The company said today that S. Decker Anstrom, who has served on the board since 2012 as a preferred stock director, will step down effective at year’s end. Susan M. Swain, a current common stock director on the board, will assume Anstrom’s role as a preferred stock director.
Johnson will serve as a Class I common stock director with Swain’s move. His initial term as an independent director will expire at the company’s 2021 annual meeting of stockholders, according to Discovery’s 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Johnson was the founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television, launching it in 1979. The media entrepreneur is the founder of The RLJ Companies, LLC, which owns interests in the fields of hotel real estate, private equity, fintech services, automobile dealerships, gaming and sports betting. His properties include RLJE Films and RLJE Entertainment, the latter a digital channel subsidiary of AMC Networks that include Acorn TV and UMC (soon to be rebranded as ALLBLK).
His experience in the cable news and streaming spaces will benefit Discovery, which will launch its streaming service Discovery+ on January 4 in the U.S. and feature some 55,000 hours of programming the company’s portfolio that includes Discovery Channel, TLC, ID, Food Network, HGTV and other networks.
The global rollout of Discovery+ across an initial 25 countries has already begun with India, the UK and Ireland. Internationally, distribution partners include Sky in the UK and Ireland and TIM in Italy.
“Bob is a legendary entrepreneur and one of media’s true pioneers and innovators, dating back to his creation of BET and continuing throughout his distinguished career,” said Robert Miron, chairman of Discovery’s board. “As we embark on a transformative year for Discovery, we are honored to add Bob as an independent director. We look forward to benefiting from his business acumen and exceptional track record in media.”
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