CNN Ad Sales Head Out In Turner Restructuring

Turner Broadcasting announced restructuring of its ad sales organization that results in former media buyer Donna Speciale being named president for TV and digital sales and long-time CNN sales chief Greg D’Alba leaving the company.

The restructure occurs as the industry’s upfront sales season moves into high gear. CNN has scheduled an upfront sales event for April 10 in New York. Turner holds its upfront presentation during broadcast week in May.

“Combining our television and digital ad sales functions and marketing functions allows us to provide more cohesive support to our advertising partners and further build collaborative relationships with them that will ultimately help meet their business goals and objectives,” said David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting in a memo explaining the changes to the company. “In turn, this new strategic direction will help us further maximize our revenue potential across our entire portfolio.”

Speciale, who for the last few years has been head of sales for Turner’s entertainment and kids networks, was named president of Turner Broadcasting ad sales. She succeeds Levy, who had also been president of distribution and sports before being named president of all of Turner Broadcasting last year. He reports to new Turner CEO John Martin.

“In this expanded role, Donna will now oversee ad sales for all of Turner’s domestic television and digital entertainment, news, kids and young adult brands and will continue to report directly to me,” Levy said in his memo. “Donna has made an immediate impact on our business since joining Turner from MediaVest two years ago. She is a respected and strategic sales executive, with strong relationships within the ad sales and media landscape, as well as a successful track record of maximizing revenue potential.”

Levy noted that D’Alba will be leaving Turner after more than 27 years. Most recently he’d been in charge of sales for CNN and for Turner digital ad sales. D’Alba’s departure was first reported by the New York Post.

Under the new structure, Katrina Cukaj, executive VP of CNN ad sales and Andrea Ching, senior VP, news and Turner digital ad sales, will report to Speciale.

Other digital sales execs will also become part of the unified organization. Joe Dugan, senior VP, CNN digital sales will report to Cukaj. Dennis Chang, VP/digital sales manager, entertainment & young adults, and Ed Wise, senior VP of digital ad sales entertainment and young adults/ branded entertainment, will have a dual report to Frank Sgrizzi, executive VP of Turner entertainment ad sales, and Joe Hogan, executive VP of Turner young adults ad sales.

On the sports side, Rich Calacci, senior VP, sports digital/Bleacher Report ad sales and Seth Ladetsky, senior VP, sports digital ad sales, will now report directly to Jon Diament, executive VP of Turner sports ad sales. 

“Obviously, the changes we are announcing today come at an important time in our business. Through discussions with our clients, we know they’re looking to accelerate the process of integrating their media plans and have a single point of focus that will further streamline the buying process across all screens and opportunities,” Levy said in his memo. “As agencies and clients begin planning for their 2014-15 upfront, it was imperative to implement our new structure to meet the needs of our advertising partners. Donna and I, along with the ad sales leadership team, are focused on the critical upfront marketplace and we are committed to ensuring business continuity through this period of transition.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.