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Discovery Names Michalchyshyn President of Planet Green

Discovery Communications has settled on a president for Planet Green. Laura Michalchyshyn, formerly executive vice president and general manager of Sundance Channel, has been named president and general manager of the network.

Michalchyshyn will take over March 16, running all aspects of Planet Green including programming, operations and content development. She'll report to David Zaslav, CEO, Discovery Communications.

Michalchyshyn will split her time between Discovery's New York offices and the company's headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.

“We’re gong to seriously strategize around the brand,” she says. “What is green? What is green programming? What can it be? What is the future and how can we broaden it and make it appealing entertaining, relevant, inspiring as well?”

Michalchyshyn sees an opportunity for the network to forge a significant presence as the green movement has expanded from a niche interest to a mainstream political platform reflected in the rhetoric of President Obama.

“Green is taking on a new meaning in everybody’s life,” says Michalchyshyn. “You look at the new president and how he speaks about energy and resources and renewable energy. I really truly believe that this is about long-term change in all of our lives.”

At Sundance, Michalchyshyn oversaw production of many of the network's original programs including Big Ideas for a Small Planet, Iconoclasts, Nimrod Nation, Architecture School, Sin City Law, Live from Abbey Road, and Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...

She also launched Sundance Channel’s The Green, an environmentally themed program block featuring originals and acquired series. 

“She’s really uniquely talented,” says Zaslav. “It’s great for us because we get a great creative talent and she has some real chops not just as a GM but in the green space. For us it’s just right in the sweet spot. We could not have found a better person.”

Michalchyshyn will take over for Eileen O'Neill, who left to run sister network TLC after the abrupt departure of Angela Shapiro-Mathes last summer. Discovery Emerging Networks president Clark Bunting has been running Planet Green since O'Neill's departure.

Discovery Communications was one of the few media companies to report growth during the economic downturn. On its earning call this week, the company reported that ad revenue at its U.S. networks rose 6% in the fourth quarter, and 9% for the full year. Distribution revenue also grew 13% in the fourth quarter and 10% in 2008, at the U.S. unit.

Overall, fourth quarter profit rose to $105 million for the quarter period, versus a loss of $8 million for the same quarter last year. Full year profit was $274 million up by $123 million. The company recorded a content impairment charge of $139 million in 2007.