Speciale Out as AT&T Shakes Up WarnerMedia Ad Sales

More longtime turner executives are leaving WarnerMedia as AT&T continues to remake the media company it acquired when it bought Time Warner.

Top ad sales executives led by president Donna Speciale departed, along with executive VP’s Frank Sgrizzi and Dan Riess, both of whom had been with Turner for more than 20 years.

AT&T wants to maximize its ad revenue by having its cable networks work closely with Xandr, the division that uses data from AT&T customers to target advertising and already sells commercials for DirecTV.

Turner has effectively been eliminated since being folded into WarnerMedia, headed by former AT&T executive John Stankey.

Gerhard Zeiler, who was named chief revenue officer for WarnerMedia after the departures of Turner CEO John Martin and president David Levy, will be interim president of ad sales, replacing Speciale.

“Everyone understands how much the industry is transforming and that we need to change to enable us to stay at the top and lead the industry,” Zeiler said in a staff memo. The top execs named to report to Zeiller are Amit Chaturvedi, Katrina Cukaj and Joe Hogan.

A number of other positions in the ad sales operation were also eliminated in the restructuring.

“I know that change can be challenging. But remember: Change is also an opportunity, and our ambition is big. We are strengthening our core business, driving new revenue streams, and reshaping the corporate structure – all at the same time,” Zeiler said in his memo.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.