AT&T To Combine WarnerMedia’s Turner And HBO Divisions, Turner President David Levy And HBO President Richard Plepler To Leave The Company
Over the past couple of days (28th February and 1st March), AT&T, the ultimate parent company of Turner (the owner of Cartoon Network) via AT&T’s WarnerMedia is planning some structural changes to the way WarnerMedia is run, particularly its television division.
The plan is to merge its two television channel divisions – Turner which focuses on basic package cable channels and its premium entertainment and movies channel brand – HBO (Home Box Office). Also WarnerMedia is planning a direct-to-consumer streaming service which will feature HBO content in its core package, plus content from Turner’s general entertainment and kids brands.
On Thursday (28th February), it emerged that the President of Turner – David Levy will be leaving the company after 33 years, his career at Turner dates all the way back before the Turner/Time Warner merger and years before Cartoon Network started broadcasting.
In a internal company memo, David Levy said:
“I have decided the time is right to leave my role. I am ready for a professional change. Turner has been a significant part of my life and I will watch from the sidelines as this company continues to produce more amazing moments. The next few months will be filled with many new ‘firsts’ and experiences. I am confident that you all will show that true maverick spirit this company was founded on to march forward and continue the standard of excellence we have built and enjoyed.”
The news of David Levy’s resignation follows news that AT&T has finally jumped over the last legal hurdle in its acquisition of Time Warner (Now WarnerMedia), which was a lengthy appeals court battle. Telecommunications conglomerate AT&T acquired Time Warner in June last year and the merger itself was announced in October 2016. On Thursday, the CEO of HBO – Richard Plepler also announced that he’s also leaving the company.
Both Mr Levy and Mr Plepler reported to WarnerMedia’s new CEO – John Stankey, who replaced Jeff Bewkes. Also Turner’s CEO John Martin stepped down immediately after the AT&T merger in June, leaving the post vacant.
There’s no official word on who will manage the combined Turner/HBO unit, some sources including The Hollywood Reporter and Variety suggest that AT&T is currently in talks with former NBC Entertainment chairman – Bob Greenblatt.
In addition to the HBO/Turner changes, WarnerMedia is planning to sell its 10% stake in Hulu, a popular online streaming service for TV shows in the United States to Disney. Disney is also in a similar situation to AT&T as its merging with 21st Century Fox, after the Fox/Disney merger and after buying WarnerMedia’s 10% stake, Disney will own 70% of the Hulu streaming service, with 30% still owned by Comcast (NBC).
Last October, AT&T said there won’t be any big changes at Turner, there was no mention about combining Turner with HBO, but hopefully this will be the only significant change, merging business units together usually leads to cost cutting measures such as administration which also leads to job losses. At present, there’s no news on how these significant changes will affect Cartoon Network and rest of Turner’s children’s and young adults division. In many parts of the world, HBO and Turner already work together, they already share offices in London, Turner’s kids streaming service in Scandinavia – Toonix is available via HBO Nordic’s streaming service, Cartoon Network shows are available via the HBO GO streaming service available in parts of Europe and Turner already operates HBO South Asia on behalf of the company.