MGM Taps Mark Burnett To Run TV Operation After Buying Out JV Partners

MGM has agreed to buy the  45% stake it didn’t own in its United Artists Media Group joint venture from partners Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and Hearst, and put Burnett in charge of the MGM Television and Digital Group, the studio says today.

Roma Khanna has stepped down from her position as head of television and digital.

Burnett and Downey will swap their 23% stake in in UAMG for 1,337,360 shares of MGM’s privately traded  stock valued at $90 per share — a total value of $120.4 million. Hearst will receive $113.5 million in cash for its 22%.

The deals are expected to close early next year. Burnett, who will become president of the TV and digital group, signed a 5-year contract and will report to MGM chief Gary Barber.

Mark BurnettA planned streaming video channel will remain a separate and controlled by Downey, Burnett, Hearst and MGM. Downey will be chief content officer for the channel. She’ll also report to Burnett as president of LightWorkers Media, which will be the faith and family division of MGM Television.

MGM’s CEO calls the changes with Burnett “the next step in our never-ending quest to expand and grow our television and digital businesses.” He adds that the deals “will be very accretive to MGM.”

Burnett, for his part, says that “suddenly MGM has more network hit shows than almost any other company” with a line up that includes The Voice, Survivor, Shark Tank, Beyond the Tank, Celebrity Apprentice, and Fargo.

It also “positions us very well for the future.” He says the arrangement is efficient since “we would have had to hire a much bigger staff” at the JV to handle orders. “It would have taken us an extra year to staff up appropriately.”

He plans to search the MGM library for properties that can be revived.

He’s also in “pretty serious talks with advertisers” about forging relationships for fully-sponsored productions similar to the one with Intel for America’s Greatest Makers. “We’re not just looking at the linear TV part,” he says.

In the new structure Chris Ottinger will report to Barber as president of worldwide television distribution & acquisitions. Steve Stark, MGM’s president of television development & production, will oversee all scripted content and report to Burnett in what the company calls an “expanded role.” John Bryan, MGM’s president of domestic television distribution will continue in his role overseeing domestic distribution.

This article was printed from