Turner Broadcasting Names Martin CEO

Turner Broadcasting chief Phil Kent -- who led TBS and TNT through a major growth period, although CNN has struggled in recent years -- is leaving the company. John Martin, CFO of parent Time Warner, will take over.

Martin will assume the CEO post on Jan. 1. Kent, who has been in his position since 2003, will become chairman for part of 2014.

In a statement, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said it was Kent who broached talks about departing.

Kent joined Turner in 1993 after serving as an agent at CAA. In 2000-01, he was president-COO of the news operations at CNN. In a move to resuscitate the division last year, Turner named former NBCUniversal top executive Jeff Zucker to take over. He has been a low-profile executive for such a powerful one, perhaps in keeping with an agent’s role to remain in the background.

Kent assumed the CEO role about three years after Steve Koonin, who leads the entertainment networks at Turner, rebranded them, with TNT taking on a drama focus and TBS a comedy one. Particularly at TNT, a heavy investment has been made in original programs; Turner was a pacesetter as cable has gone in that direction.

During Kent’s tenure, Time Warner took full control of Court TV and turned it into truTV. Turner also acquired rights to Major League Baseball postseason games for TBS.

As Time Warner has shed assets and essentially cast its net with TV programming as its driver, the Turner networks have become crown properties.

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