After 20 years working for Discovery Communications, Marjorie Kaplan is out at the company as it restructures its London-based creative teams. During her time at Discovery, Kaplan led both Animal Planet and TLC in the U.S., and served as interim head of Discovery Channel. Kaplan moved to London last year to lead the company’s international content team, which is based in the city.
The International Content Group, currently led by Kaplan, will become part of the U.K./Ireland business under the leadership of Susanna Dinnage. J.B. Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery Networks Intl., is restructuring the London operations “in order to bolster the U.K market as a significant source of content creation for the company’s global networks,” according to a company statement.
Kaplan, president of International Content, moved to London a year ago “to partner with Perrette in reviewing the strategy for international content investment and strengthen relationships with the creative community and the global content pipeline,” the company said. In her role, “she helped to determine that the international content group should work directly with the U.K. business, as both the U.K. and the U.S. creative communities have been at the forefront of producing some of the best ‘local to global’ content successes.”
Kaplan will leave at the end of the year. Dinnage has been promoted to president and managing director, Discovery Networks UK/Ireland, with her responsibilities expanding to include content creation for the international business. In her new role, she will “not only develop new genres and formats for U.K. audiences with an eye toward global appeal, but also she will work with international teams to source the best ideas and stories that can travel to other markets and worldwide.”
Dinnage has spent more than 20 years working in the television industry, beginning her career at MTV and then joining the launch team at the U.K.’s Channel 5. She joined Discovery seven years ago, working in a number of roles with progressive responsibilities, including general manager of the U.K. and Benelux businesses. Under her leadership, the U.K. business has doubled in revenue and overseen the launched of several channels, including TLC. Successes include the promotion of adventurer Ed Stafford into “an internationally recognized personality” after his U.K. debut, and the launch of a U.K.’s version of the global franchise “Say Yes to the Dress” to become TLC U.K.’s biggest hit this year.
Perrette said: “Susanna is a great creative and commercial leader. She has successfully grown the U.K. business over the last seven years and has been instrumental in building our brands and channels in our biggest market outside the U.S. Redeploying resources to the U.K. team, as well as bolstering the innovative work done by Discovery’s local creative teams worldwide, will ensure a healthy pipeline of content for the company’s loved brands around the world.”
He added: “Marjorie is an incredible business leader, widely admired both internally and externally, having transformed multiple businesses at the company and with long-running hit series on virtually all our channels, to her credit. I know she is excited to seek out an entirely new challenge, but her legacy will remain and she will be missed.”
Dinnage said: “Aligning our London-based content creation business with the U.K. business really underscores our creative and financial commitment to the U.K. production community. Discovery is a great company with fantastic brands and channels and a lot of amazing creative talent. I am really looking forward to harnessing our own talent and ideas with the innovative production sector in the U.K. to develop new ideas, talent, genres, formats and funding models that resonate both with U.K. audiences and across the globe.”
Kaplan said: “I believe strongly in the power of global content and universal human stories. Discovery’s international business must prioritize local relevance to best serve international audiences and drive growth, and further leverage its incredibly creative talent around the world. As a result, the current central structure doesn’t make sense for the company or for me. Although this is a bittersweet decision for me, I expect it to also be the start of new adventures as exciting as those I have undertaken while at Discovery.”