Paley Dialogues

Content Innovation: A Conversation with Kenneth Lowe, Josh Sapan, and David Zaslav

Thursday, October 29, 2015
7:30 am to 9:00 am
New York

With the slew of mergers and acquisitions between broadcast and cable companies that were underway and under discussion, and the simultaneous unbundling of cable packages, introduction of options such as Sling and OTT offerings, content innovation is key. This Paley Media Council breakfast featured David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications; Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks; and Kenneth Lowe, CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive in a broad ranging moderated conversation that explored, among other things, their views on today’s innovations in content: creating it, distributing it, and paying for it.


Panelists:

Kenneth LoweKen Lowe
Chairman, President, and CEO, Scripps Networks Interactive
Ken Lowe is Chairman, President and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive, a leading lifestyle media provider for television, the Internet and other media platforms. He was President and CEO of The E. W. Scripps Company from 2000 until 2008, when Scripps Networks Interactive became a separate, publicly traded company. Prior to 2000, Lowe was chairman and CEO of Scripps Networks. He built the company into one of the nation’s fastest-growing and most successful creators of unique brands for cable television and the Internet. He founded and launched HGTV in 1994; oversaw the acquisition and transformation of the Food Network into an American pop culture icon; presided over the launches of DIY Network and Cooking Channel as well as the acquisitions of the Travel Channel and Great American Country. Lowe also guided the development of the company’s growing portfolio of interactive content services in the food and home lifestyle categories. Lowe joined Scripps in 1980 as general manager of the company’s radio properties. In 1988, he became vice president of programming, promotion and marketing for the company’s network-affiliated television stations. Lowe began his career in radio with Southern Broadcasting in 1969 and held various management positions in radio and television with Harte-Hanks Broadcasting. Lowe serves on the board of directors of National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Paley Center for Media, The Cable Center, and Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation. Lowe received a Bachelor of Arts degree in radio, television and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

Josh SapanJosh Sapan
President & Chief Executive Officer, AMC Networks Inc.

One of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and visionary executives, Josh Sapan sets strategy and is responsible for the overall management of AMC Networks, which owns and operates several leading entertainment brands including popular and award-winning national cable television networks AMC, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, and BBC AMERICA (operated through a joint venture with BBC Worldwide); feature film label IFC Films and Sundance Selects; and AMC Networks International, the company’s global division. Named CEO in 1995, Sapan is credited with building some of television’s most influential entertainment brands and shows that are at the center of what’s been widely referred to as a new “Golden Age” of television; shows including: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Better Call Saul;” SundanceTV’s “Rectify” and “The Honorable Woman;” and IFC’s “Portlandia.” Sapan has been instrumental in bringing independent film to wide audiences through award-winning film distribution and production labels IFC Films (Oscar®-winning Boyhood), Sundance Selects (Oscar®-nominated Two Days, One Night) and IFC Midnight (critical and cultural hit The Babadook). He also pioneered the strategy of same-day theatrical and video-on-demand release which has fundamentally altered how independent films are distributed and is a model that is now widely used throughout the movie industry. Earlier in his career Sapan spearheaded the development of the Bravo network. Sapan serves on numerous boards, including The Paley Center for Media, The Cable Center, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) Educational Foundation, the International Radio and Television Society (IRTS), the Museum of the Moving Image, People for the American Way and WNYC Radio. He is a published poet, and also has the world’s largest collection of antique lightning rods, a selection of which is currently on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

David ZaslavDavid Zaslav
President and CEO, Discovery Communications

As chief executive of Discovery Communications, David Zaslav sets the strategy and oversees all operations for the #1 pay-TV programmer in the world. Discovery networks now reach nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in more than 220 countries. Zaslav has led Discovery since 2007, executing a number of initiatives that have focused the organization on growth, performance and operational efficiency. He also has directed a strategic effort to clarify and strengthen Discovery’s world-class brands, including a renewed focus on creativity and increased investment in original content. In September 2008, under his leadership, Discovery began trading as a public company on the Nasdaq stock exchange and in 2014 became a Fortune 500 company. Fortune also consistently named Discovery as one of the world’s most admired companies. Since Zaslav took the helm, Discovery has launched some of the fastest-growing cable networks in the U.S., including Investigation Discovery, Velocity, Destination America and American Heroes Channel, and has premiered such iconic programming and award-winning specials as “Planet Earth” and “Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda.” The company also partnered with Oprah Winfrey to launch OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Under Zaslav's leadership, Discovery has rolled out TLC – now the most widely distributed female-targeted entertainment and lifestyle channel brand in media – to more than 190 global countries and territories and ID to more than 155 countries and territories markets, creating an unmatched international portfolio for viewers, advertisers and distributors. In 2013, Discovery expanded its international operations with the acquisition of SBS Nordic, a top-three portfolio of television brands across Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland featuring leading nonfiction content, locally produced entertainment programs and scripted series. Most recently, the company completed a transaction to acquire a controlling interest in top European sports platform, Eurosport International. In 2012, Zaslav received the UJA-Federation of New York’s Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award and in 2014, was awarded the Fred Dressler Leadership Award by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Zaslav also spearheaded Discovery Impact, the company’s corporate social responsibility programs. Prior to joining Discovery, Zaslav had a distinguished career at NBCUniversal, where he was instrumental in developing and launching CNBC and also played a role in the creation of MSNBC. He was previously an attorney with the New York firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae and graduated with honors from Boston University School of Law. Zaslav serves on the boards of Sirius XM Radio, Inc., the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Cable Center, Center for Communication, Skills for America’s Future and Grupo Televisa. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center for Media, the Mt. Sinai Medical Center and previously served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where he created and taught a graduate-level course on the business of cable television.

 

Moderated By:

Mark RobichauxMark Robichaux,
Editorial Director, Television Group, NewBay Media

Mark Robichaux is Editorial Director of NewBay Media’s TV Group in New York, which includes Multichannel News, Broadcasting & Cable, NextTV and Ratings Intelligence. Prior to his current position, he was Editor-in-Chief of both Multichannel News and sister publication Broadcasting & Cable. He was a staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 13 years, writing for Page One, as well as covering small business and the cable-TV industry. He is author of critically acclaimed “Cable Cowboy”, a biography of cable pioneer John Malone. He worked as a staff reporter at the Miami Herald upon graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia.


This event was exclusive to Media Council members and other invited guests. To find out more about Media Council membership or inquire about receiving an invitation, contact mediacouncil@paleycenter.org.

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