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Karsch Leaving Turner Classic Movies

Tom Karsch is putting the final film in the canister.

The executive vice president and general manager of Turner Classic Movies will leave the vintage film network later this month. Karsch, who has been leading the service since the summer of 1995, sent a letter to TCM colleagues Friday morning stating that he “realized a lifetime professional goal” when he was “given the opportunity to manage a network business” and that the time is now right for his departure.

“I can’t adequately express to you my satisfaction and pride in what we have accomplished together. My time at Turner Classic Movies and the success we’ve created have made me think and dream bigger, for our business and for myself,” Karsch wrote.

“I’m anxious to see what else I can do, and with TCM in such a good place and my career at the point it is, this is the time for me to do it,” he added. “So I’ll be leaving TCM and Turner Broadcasting for new challenges.”

According to sources at the network, Karsch, 48, will likely exit TCM in a couple of weeks. During that period, management will assess the network’s leadership structure before deciding whether there is a need to conduct a formal search for a replacement.

TCM debuted in April 1994 in about 5 million homes. The service began by offering vintage films from United Artists, RKO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and, later, the Warner Bros. libraries.

Under Karsch’s leadership, TCM expanded its product offerings with more updated movies, original documentaries and profiles on many of filmdom’s giants. It is renowned for its annual 31 Days of Oscar stunt, a festival of films that have nominated for statues or won Academy Awards.

TCM, which remains commercial-free, currently counts some 75 million subscribers.

Karsch began his career in sports marketing for sister service TNT. Over the years, he also served as senior VP and GM for Turner South, an 8 million-subscriber regional entertainment and sports service Turner sold to Fox Cable Networks Group last May for $375 million.