Turner's Koonin Exits TV, Joins Atlanta Hawks

Longtime Turner Entertainment Networks executive Steven Koonin, president of entertainment, is leaving to be the chief executive officer of NBA team, the Atlanta Hawks.

A 14-year veteran, Koonin took over first as the head of TNT and then over all Turner Entertainment channels -- TBS, truTV, and TCM.

Koonin, a veteran former Coca-Cola marketing executive before coming to Turner, was key in ramping up Turner’s effort around original scripted programming, including “The Closer,” “Major Crimes” and “Rizzoli & Isles.” Plus, he was key in starting up now longtime brand campaigns: “We Know Drama” for TNT and “Very Funny” for TBS.

Koonin also spent 14 years at Coca-Cola as vice president of consumer marketing, where he was responsible for development of brand and sales strategies. At Coca-Cola, he also had the position of vice president of sports and entertainment marketing.

In addition to his CEO role, Koonin will also become a minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks. Turner Broadcasting, longtime owner of the Hawks sold the team to a group of investors in 2005.

In a memo to Turner employees, Koonin said: “Building strong brands and a continual focus on building a culture at TEN [Turner Entertainment Networks] are just two of the major accomplishments that occurred on our collective watch. In addition to our brands and culture, we collectively accomplished a 10 year plus vision of becoming ‘broadcast replacement'."

David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting System, praised Koonin in a memo to employees -- and then added: “In the rapidly evolving media business environment, it's imperative that we embrace and lead change in order to drive growth across our businesses... We have an opportunity now to reinvigorate our core entertainment networks and brands at a pivotal time.”

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