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McGowan Departs Discovery

Discovery Networks U.S. executive vice president of ad sales Bill McGowan will leave the company at year-end to form his own firm, he said last Tuesday.

Effective in January, his new firm — McGowan Communications LLC in New York — will represent Discovery Communications Inc.'s paid programming, meaning direct-response ads and infomercials — to clients under the licensed name "Discovery Direct."

"Bill has been a great asset to DCI for the past 12 years," Discovery Networks president of ad sales Joe Abruzzese said in a prepared statement. McGowan had joined the company in 1991 as senior vice president of ad sales.

"This is an incredible opportunity for both DCI and for me," said McGowan in a statement. "I am thrilled to launch a separate independently owned sales organization that will be of enormous value to Discovery.

"I am truly grateful to DCI, and am excited about continuing to drive an important segment of Discovery's sales effort on an independent basis."

He had formed the dedicated in-house sales team for the company's paid programming efforts in 1994.

McGowan's departure, rumors of which swirled in late May and were described at the time by a company spokeswoman as "not true," had been expected since Abruzzese joined Discovery last November from CBS, where he was the network's president of ad sales.

Abruzzese's addition meant a new role for McGowan, who had been the top Discovery Networks ad-sales executive until that time. In the spring of 2002, McGowan was appointed DCI's executive vice president and general manager of U.S. ad sales and global integrated partnerships, shortly after rumors circulated that he was about to leave the programmer.

McGowan, who turned Discovery's ad sales team into one of the strongest in the cable industry, was also well known for his annual upfront predictions, a practice that neither he nor Abruzzese continued this spring.