Albrecht Agrees to Leave HBO

HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht stepped down from his post after the company was asked him to leave. The news Wednesday came as a Las Vegas police report said Albrecht “had both hands around the neck” of his girlfriend before he was arrested Sunday. “She pissed me off,” Albrecht said, according to the report.

A statement from the company quoted Albrecht as saying that with great regret, and at the request of Time Warner, he would leave the company, effective immediately.

The action was triggered by Albrecht’s alleged assault on his girlfriend early Sunday morning in the valet-parking area outside of the MGM Grand Hotel casino, the site of a boxing match televised by HBO hours earlier.

According to the police report on the incident, read to Multichannel News by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sgt. John Loreto, Albrecht had both hands around the neck of his girlfriend about 3 a.m. on May 6. He was stopped as he tried to drag her toward the casino entrance. The name of the victim was blacked out of the report the police are providing to the media.

The alleged assault was witnessed by LVMPD officers, part of a special-events detail for the fight. Albrecht told officers, by way of explanation for his actions, that “she pissed me off,” according to the report.

The officers wrote that they could smell alcohol, adding that Albrecht seemed unsteady on his feet. Albrecht informed officers that he was the CEO of HBO, while the victim stated repeatedly that she would not prosecute Albrecht, nor would she cooperate.

Also Wednesday, media executives from both HBO and Time Warner declined to comment on a Los Angeles Times report that HBO paid $400,000 in 1991 to an Albrecht underling, identified by the paper as Sasha Emerson. Albrecht allegedly assaulted an employee with whom he was romantically involved. The $400,000 was a settlement of the employee’s contract.

Time Warner said chief operating oficer Bill Nelson will fulfill Albrecht’s duties. In the statement, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons complimented Albrecht for his years of contributions to HBO, but added that he and Jeff Bewkes, president and COO of Time Warner, believe the decision for Albrecht to step down is the right decision for the company.

In a prepared statement, Parsons said, “[Time Warner president] Jeff Bewkes and I believe that this is the right decision for the company. We thank Chris for all of his contributions to Home Box Office over the years.”

Bewkes -- who oversaw the $400,000 settlement in 1991, according to the Los Angeles Times report -- participated in the closing general session Wednesday at The Cable Show '07 in Las Vegas. Bewkes was the only executive on the panel who did not attend a press conference after the session.

Albrecht said in a prepared statement that he chose to step down in order to help his colleagues.

“With great regret, at the request of Time Warner, I have agreed to step down as chairman and CEO of Home Box Office. I take this step for the benefit of my Home Box Office colleagues, recognizing that I cannot allow my personal circumstances to distract them from the business,” Albrecht said in a prepared statement.