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Oster Opts Out of Adlink

Just weeks after Charlie Thurston left Adlink for the top ad-sales post at Comcast Corp.'s cable unit, his No. 2 man, Hank Oster, said he will leave the Los Angeles interconnect at month's end.

The exit of Oster — Adlink's executive vice president and general manager — is all the more surprising, considering that rampant speculation within the cable ad-sales community had made him the front-runner to fill Thurston's shoes as president and CEO.

One executive source said that Oster had been offered the job, but turned it down.

"He didn't want to be the man," he said, hinting Oster may have been uncomfortable with the political aspects inherent to the position.

One ad-sales executive, who said he was "floored" by news of Oster's departure, offered another theory. He said that perhaps the interconnect's MSO equity partners — AT&T Broadband, Adelphia Communications Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable — "had different expectations or wanted a different business model" than the one Oster had envisioned for Adlink.

Oster and Adlink officials declined comment.

In a March 6 statement announcing the decision, Adlink chairman Tom Feige praised Oster as "a strong leader and mentor to the entire Adlink staff."

"Based on Hank's recommendation," the board will now search for someone to effectively assume the roles that both Oster and Thurston had held, Feige's statement added.

With Oster out of the running, that executive will most likely come from outside Adlink, several sources said.

Thurston, who left the interconnect last month, officially joins Comcast as president of ad sales on March 18. He'll be based in Philadelphia.