Cartoon's Betty Cohen Steps Down

Betty Cohen, architect of animated-programming juggernaut Cartoon Network Worldwide, will leave her post as president on July 16, she said last Friday.

The 13-year Turner Broadcasting System Inc. veteran will remain with parent AOL Time Warner Inc., though, with plans to develop multiplatform programs and services aimed at teens and young adults. She will also continue to head Turner Learning, the company's educational services initiative.

Bradley Siegel, president of TBS Inc.'s Entertainment Networks group, will oversee Cartoon in conjunction with the animated channel's senior managers.

Cohen oversaw the creation and launch of Cartoon in October 1992. Starting with library fare from Hanna-Barbera Productions, which Ted Turner purchased in December 1991, MGM shorts like Tom and Jerry
and pre-1948 Warner Bros. cartoons, the channel bowed in October 1992 in some 2.2 million homes.

Today, Cartoon has grown into an international force currently available in 73.1 million U.S. homes and 145 countries. Cartoon's rise has posed a challenge to Viacom Inc.'s longtime kidvid leader Nickelodeon in terms of ratings, ad revenues and creative accolades.

In 2000, Cartoon finished tied for second in total-day ratings with TBS and Lifetime Television and was third in primetime, averaging a 1.8 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In May, Cartoon placed third in total-day with a 1.1 average and was tied for third with USA Network in primetime at a 1.6.

Cartoon launched its first original series, Dexter's Laboratory,
in 1995, and currently has a dozen of its own skeins, including Courage the Cowardly Dog,Johnny Bravo
and cultural phenomenon The Powerpuff Girls.
Cartoon also spawned Boomerang, a retro diginet launched in April 2000.

While she is "still baking concepts," Cohen said she was looking into projects targeting "seniors in high school to young adults in their early- and mid-20s, who are just taking a broader view of the world and helping them make their way through it."

She wants to combine "the immediacy of TV, the personalization and community of the Internet and the depth of information offered by print and the text and graphics of the Web."

Asked if she is eyeing a dedicated channel down the road, Cohen replied: "I'm not sure if there is a network here. I'm still working through the concepts and the business model. But I don't want to rule anything out either way."

She did not set a timetable for her first project.