Discovery Communications COO Liguori to Leave at Year’s End

Discovery Communications Inc., the owner of cable television’s Animal Planet and TLC, said Chief Operating Officer Peter Liguori will leave the company at the end of the year.

Liguori, 51, the former head of News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting, helped start several of Discovery’s latest networks, including OWN, its joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. Liguori served as OWN’s interim head after its chief executive officer was dismissed in May amid a ratings shortfall. Winfrey was named the channel’s CEO in July.

“I am particularly grateful to Pete for tackling some pretty challenging special assignments,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav, 51, said in a statement.

Discovery, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, has sought new markets for its reality-based television shows. Its latest growth has come from overseas markets, particularly Mexico, Brazil and Russia, according to Zaslav, who wants international channels to eventually make up more than half of the company’s sales and profit. Fueling that growth is its continued investment in content, he said in an interview this month.

Zaslav, who took over Discovery in 2007, is reorganizing some functions. The COO position will be eliminated after Liguori leaves, the company said.

At least two other Discovery executives have also announced departures. Chief Financial Officer Bradley Singer is leaving in March, and Discovery Channel president Clark Bunting is also exiting early next year. The company is actively looking to fill those positions.

Discovery fell 6.8 percent to $42 at the close in New York. The stock is little changed this year.

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