Food Network President and CEO Erica Gruen leaving network

Thu, November 12, 1998 by Rich Boehne

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The Scripps Networks and Erica M. Gruen, president and CEO of Food Network, announced today that Gruen is leaving the network by mutual arrangement effective November 12th. Scripps, which also owns Home & Garden Television (HGTV), acquired the Food Network one year ago to enhance its growing portfolio of category television services. Food Network was last year’s second fastest-growing cable network.In her two-year tenure, Gruen guided Food through a major turnaround; more than doubling the network’s subscriber base from 16 million to 34 million; tripling prime-time viewership; significantly increasing annual revenues; and building the Web site into one of the largest in the category. At the same time, she successfully repositioned the product and completely overhauled and enhanced the network’s marketing efforts by demonstrating that cooking can be entertaining, and not merely instructional.“Erica’s skill and experience were vital to the success of the Food Network during a period of development, change and upheaval,” said Ken Lowe, who oversees all of the Scripps Networks in addition to being president and CEO of Home & Garden Television. “She is a talented industry executive and we’re certain she will be successful in her new endeavors.”Gruen said, “It’s Scripps’ desire to bring in their own management to run the network, and I fully understand that decision. It has been my good fortune to have assembled and led a fantastic team through the most dramatic period of growth in this company’s history, during which Food went from a marginal operation to become a substantial and respected category leader. I now look forward to applying my industry know-how to other growth companies or to pursuing an entrepreneurial venture of my own.”With more than 20 years experience as a start-up and turnaround specialist in the television industry, Gruen is uniquely positioned to tackle many of the daunting and myriad challenges presented by the burgeoning cable and new media industries. At Food, Gruen oversaw a staff of 185 and directed all aspects of the network including sales, marketing, operations, creative development, programming and brand merchandising and licensing. In addition, she oversaw one of the most active television studios in the country producing more than 1,800 TV programs per year. Two of her most significant programming feats were the creation of the smash sensation, “Emeril Live!,” and the orchestration of the American debut of the British cult hit, “Two Fat Ladies.”Prior to joining Food, Gruen held senior management positions at Omnicom and Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising where she produced Emmy-Award winning series for television and developed groundbreaking Web sites for numerous Fortune 100 companies.Gruen serves on the Board of Directors of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, is vice chairwoman of the Women in Cable and Telecommunications Foundation, and is chairwoman of the Broadcast, Cable, and Video Group of the UJA-Federation.