New GM Takes Root at Discovery Channel

Looking for an executive who can create hits, Discovery Networks U.S. has recruited Jane Root, the programming chief of BBC2, to take over as general manager of its flagship Discovery Channel.

Root, whose official title at BBC2 was controller, will succeed Clark Bunting, who was promoted and given a new post, executive vice president of Discovery Networks U.S., overseeing 10 of the company’s networks.

In the restructuring, unveiled Monday, Discovery Networks president Billy Campbell will retain oversight of Discovery Channel, under Root, and The Learning Channel, under GM Roger Marmet.

Bunting will oversee the GMs of Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel, The Science Channel, Discovery Wings Channel, Discovery Home Channel, Discovery en Español, Discovery Kids, Discovery Times Channel and FitTV.

Regarding the hiring of Root, who will join Discovery in mid-May, Campbell said in a prepared statement, "Jane brings a remarkable track record of developing breakout programming strategies and industry-leading productions from her years with the BBC [British Broadcasting Corp.] and as a leader in the United Kingdom’s independent-production community."

Root is credited with reinvigorating BBC2 with fare like The Office,the first British sitcom to win a Golden Globe, along with comedy Coupling and "event" television like Restoration and The Big Read.

There has been GM turnover at several of Discovery Networks’ channels since Campbell came on board. Michael Cascio left Animal Planet the end of last year, and Bob Reid exited Discovery Health in January.

As part of this week’s management changes, Campbell plans to create a new position, executive VP of new technologies and network services.

That person -- whom Campbell plans to hire in the next few months -- will oversee Discovery HD Theater, Discovery’s On Demand offerings and Discovery iMedia, which includes (