Zaslav Leaves NBC for Discovery

NBC Universal Cable and Domestic TV and New Media Distribution president David Zaslav will join Discovery Communications as president and CEO.

Zaslav succeeds Judith McHale, who announced her resignation in August to work on social and philanthropic issues, and he will assume his new role in early 2007.

Discovery Communications chairman John S. Hendricks -- who chaired the company's CEO search committee, which included representatives from shareholders Discovery Holding, Advance/Newhouse Communications and Cox Communications -- made the official announcement Thursday afternoon.

Zaslav joined NBC in 1989, and he was instrumental in developing and launching CNBC and MSNBC, as well as negotiating carriage agreements with DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing David for over two decades since he first helped me in the early days of Discovery as a bright, energetic young lawyer who enthusiastically embraced our brand and worked tirelessly on our key programming and distribution deals,” Hendricks said in a prepared statement.

“In the time since, David has amassed an enormous set of management and financial skills at NBC Universal, where he built the distribution base and operations of an enviable array of cable and new-media offerings,” he added.

Zaslav added, “With so many trusted and dynamic brands, Discovery has been a trailblazer from its very beginning. I look forward to building on the company’s heritage of creative excellence and the attributes for which it has always been known -- world-class content, global expansion and first-mover advantage into new distribution platforms."

In a prepared statement of his own, Cox president Pat Esser said, “The work Discovery is doing is extremely vital to our industry. We at Cox are thrilled to be a part of that, and we will continue to be a supportive partner with David and Discovery.”