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Rodgers leaves Discovery

In the latest shuffle at Discovery Networks, President Johnathan Rodgers is stepping down. A self-described network-builder, Rodgers said that, after six years with the company, Discovery no longer needs his guidance.

"I'd rather be with a start-up or a fixer-upper," he said Thursday on a call with reporters announcing his resignation. Rodgers exercised a buy-out clause in his contract, which ran out Dec. 31, 2001.

Discovery has lost a string of executives in recent months, including husband-and-wife team Michael Quattrone, former head of Discovery Channel, and Kathy Quattrone, who was GM of Discovery Health, and Charley Humbard, head of digital networks.

Rodgers is one of cable's top African-American execs and was previously president of CBS's O&O stations. He hinted he'd be interested in working on a minority TV network and confirmed that he has spoken with executives from thinly distributed African-American network NUE-TV, which is backed by minority-owned radio group Radio One.

It was Discovery's fledging status that attracted him in 1996 after a 20-year career at CBS. "When I got here, we had two channels, and the value was $1 billion," said Rodgers. "Now we have 11 channels, and the value is $20 billion."

Discovery President and COO Judith McHale will lead the search for his successor.