Turner President David Levy is leaving the company after 33 years, the latest in a string of exits following AT&T’s acquisition of Turner and the rest of WarnerMedia.
“I have decided the time is right to leave my role,” Levy said in an internal memo. “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,” he said.
The news came just a few days after an appeals court ended the lengthy legal battle over AT&T’s June 2018 takeover of WarnerMedia, which includes CNN and many other television and film assets.
With AT&T’s deal now assured, the wireless giant is bringing in new executives and emphasizing a streaming TV mission.
The head of another WarnerMedia division, HBO CEO Richard Plepler, announced his own departure on Thursday.
In a memo to colleagues on Thursday, Plepler did not give a specific reason for his departure, but it’s clear that AT&T’s takeover was a driving factor. In an internal memo, he said that “it is the right time for me to do so.”
Both Plepler and Levy have reported to John Stankey, an AT&T (T) veteran who is the CEO of WarnerMedia, since the deal took effect last June.
In the coming days Stankey is widely expected to bring the HBO and Turner divisions together, possibly under former NBC executive Robert Greenblatt. Stankey and Greenblatt have reportedly been talking about a deal, though nothing has been announced.
Levy’s imminent departure was first reported by The Information on Thursday.
He has had a storied career at Turner, the entertainment and news division named for founder Ted Turner. Levy joined the company in 1986, when cable was still a young business, and started as an ad sales account executive. Over the years his portfolio expanded to include oversight of ad sales, distribution, sports, and other parts of Turner.
Levy became president of the division in 2013.
Under previous management, Turner and HBO and the studio division, Warner Bros, were all run as rather separate businesses. But AT&T has been trying to bring them closer together, particularly on the television side.
Levy’s boss John Martin, CEO of Turner, stepped down when the AT&T deal took effect last June, and he was not replaced — an early sign of the changes that are now afoot.
A few months later Stankey announced plans for an ambitious streaming service that would incorporate content from all of WarnerMedia’s divisions.
HBO will be the core of the forthcoming product, with other content packaged around it, according to WarnerMedia.
In an interview on stage at the CES tech conference earlier this year, Levy gave no indication that he was about to leave the company.
Of course, Warner is far from the only media company experiencing consolidation and change. Disney (DIS) is expected to take over 21st Century Fox’s assets in the coming weeks — a transaction that will result in a major executive shuffle at the Fox studio.
Levy acknowledged the intense pace of change in his memo on Friday morning.
“The next few months will be filled with many new ‘firsts’ and experiences,” he wrote to colleagues. “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.”