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Rich Ross is Discovery Channel US president

MUMBAI: US infotainment broadcaster Discovery has announced the appointment of former Shine America CEO and former Disney executive Rich Ross to the position of Discovery Channel president.

Joining Discovery in January 2015, Ross will be based at the company’s LA office. He will oversee creative and brand strategy, development, production, marketing and all day-to-day operations for the network. He will report to Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav.

Zaslav said, “Rich is one of the most creative storytellers, ratings drivers, brand builders and TV executives in the industry today. On top of being just a great guy, Rich also is mission driven, with a commitment to quality, blue-chip programming and is a terrific fit with Discovery. I am confident that with his experience, relationships and creative leadership, Rich can lead Discovery to its next great chapter in innovative, groundbreaking television.”

Discovery added that this announcement comes as the Discovery Channel is having a strong fourth quarter to date, with total viewers up 17 per cent with the shows ‘Fast N’ Loud’, ‘Gold Rush’ and ‘Alaska: The Last Frontier’ all up year-over-year in primetime and male demographics.

Ross said, “I am so excited to join David and the great team at Discovery. This network is the gold standard of programmers and to be able to add to its depth of great content with new stories and new characters is simply thrilling.”

Ross joins Discovery from Shine America, where in his role as CEO since 2013, he has driven the ongoing commercial strategy of Shine Group’s US operations. He has overseen all aspects of Shine America’s production, distribution and marketing of original programming across broadcast, cable and digital platforms.

Prior to joining Shine America, Ross had a career at Disney from 1996 to 2012, most recently in the role as Disney Studios chairman from 2009 to 2012, where he oversaw worldwide production, distribution and marketing for the company’s range of live-action and feature-animated film labels, including Walt Disney, Disney-Pixar and Marvel, and worked with leading filmmakers and focused on branded content.

Previously, Ross had served as Disney Channels Worldwide president from 2004 to 2009, where he managed the growth and success of the company’s global television and radio portfolio for kids, including six brands and more than 70 kids TV channels around the world.

Marjorie Kaplan, who is serving as Discovery Channel interim president, will continue in that capacity until Ross’s arrival in January 2015. She will continue to serve as TLC, Animal Planet group president and will add Velocity to the portfolio of networks under her leadership.

Zaslav continued, “A special thanks to Marjorie Kaplan. She is one of our most talented and dedicated leaders. Marjorie stepped in over the past 60 days without missing a beat to provide tremendous leadership, continuity and creative energy for the Discovery Channel during an important transition period. All those who have worked with Marjorie know how collaborative, creative and passionate she is about every project she touches, and I am so appreciative of her jumping in during this interim period and to now have her back full time providing steadiness and creative leadership to TLC, Animal Planet and her entire portfolio.”