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Names to Know 2012

The country, the globe, the economy, our industry-in each of these arenas, the phrase "roller-coaster ride" seems a particularly apt descriptor for what lies ahead, as we have left the gate on 2012 and are bracing ourselves for the twists and turns, climbs and dips of the coming months.

Where we'll head-and whether that ride will be a cyclone of change or (fingers crossed) an adventure and a blueprint for something worth riding yet again -- will depend in large part on who is doing the driving.

In the television business, we know there are many conductors of movement, in broadcast and cable, in technology, in advertising, programming and development, content and scheduling, and in negotiation and government. We often read the same billboard-type names of executives who mandate these changes. But there are lots of other notably talented folks who take some huge risks and make the kinds of deals that set big changes in motion.

Our annual list of Names to Know includes just those types of folks. As you read about them below, you will see a few adjectives that helped us decide who really belonged. The leaders are entrepreneurial, influential, highly regarded, capable, ambitious, smart and straightforward; there's even one "behind-the-scenes magician." As to what they do during the work day: they ink deals, prepare aggressive battles, double the size of operations, work out the models for future production and push long-standing efforts.

You will recognize some of these names; others, you won't. But we're banking they will all be much more prominent as the 2012 ride moves forward.

Bela Bajaria

Executive VP, Universal Television

Stephen Brown

Senior VP, Programming and Development, Twentieth Television

Erin Burnett

Anchor, CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront

Bill Butler

VP, Programming and Promotion, Sinclair Broadcast Group

Justin Connolly

Senior VP, National Accounts, Disney and ESPN Media Networks Group

Andy Forssell

Senior VP of Content, Hulu

George Greenberg

Executive VP and General Manager, Fuel TV

Dan Harrison

Executive VP, Scheduling, Fox Broadcasting

Robert Kyncl

Global Head of Content Partnerships, Google

Hernan Lopez

President/CEO, Fox International Channels

Christine Merrifield

President, Video Investment and Activation, MediaVest USA

Rob Mills

Vice President, Alternative Series and Specials, ABC Entertainment

Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel

Federal Communications Commission nominees

David Rhodes

President, CBS News

Don Richards

Group VP. Raycom Media

Emilio Romano

President, Telemundo

Donna Speciale

President, Turner Entertainment & Animation Ad Sales

Bob Sullivan

VP of Content, E.W. Scripps

Michael Valentine

VP of Content, Belo

Linda Yaccarino

President, Cable Entertainment & Digital Advertising Sales, NBCU

Gary Zenkel

President, NBC Olympics