Eric Ober named president of Food Network
Thu, November 12, 1998 by Rich Boehne
The Scripps Networks today restructured its senior management team to takefurther advantage of operating efficiencies and to bring an even strongerprogramming focus to its fast-growing category television services.Eric Ober, president and CEO of Scripps-owned Cinetel Productions, wasnamed president and general manager of the Food Network.“Eric Ober is a skilled television executive. His deep experience and uncommoncreativity will be vital to keeping the Food Network growing and on course,”said Ken Lowe, president and CEO of Home & Garden Television. As part of thereorganization, Lowe also will now serve as chairman and CEO of the FoodNetwork.“Looking ahead, as we design a strategy to take the Food Network to its nextlevel of success, we intend to greater utilize our Scripps resources and theenergetic management team that created and launched HGTV,” Lowe said.“Coupled with already strong management at Food, this should be a powerfulteam.”Ober, the former president of CBS News, has been in charge of Cinetel, aleading producer of programming for Scripps and many other cable networks,since 1997. He assumes his new duties at the Food Network immediately.“The Food Network is a very strong, uniquely branded entity with great contentand great people in front of and behind the camera,” Ober said. “I lookforward to working with the excellent and experienced management team to, as Emerilwould say, ‘kick it up a notch’ with added resources across the board.”Ober was president of CBS News from 1990-96, where he was responsible for aworldwide network news operation with more than 1,000 employees. From1987-90 he was president, CBS Television Stations, overseeing the CBS-ownedstations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Miami. From 1984-87 he was vice president, public affairs broadcasts at CBS News,where he oversaw the production of the primetime broadcast of 60 Minutes, thedevelopment and production of the innovative news magazine, “West 57th” andthe primetime documentary unit, “CBS Reports.” Food has been majority owned and operated by the Scripps Networks sinceOctober 1997. Also announced today, as part of the Scripps Networks managementrestructuring: Susan Packard will be executive vice president for affiliate sales,international and new business development. She is also chief operating officer of HGTV. Ed Spray will be executive vice president for programming, new media andresearch. Spray is also executive vice president of HGTV. Mark Hale will be senior vice president for operations. Hale is also seniorvice president for operations at HGTV. Jim Clayton will be senior vice president for finance and administration. Heis also HGTV’s chief financial officer. Robert J. Gerrard, Jr., will be senior vice president and general counsel.He is also senior vice president and general counsel for HGTV. ·Judy Girard will be senior vice president for programming and contentdevelopment and, as the New York-based Scripps programming executive, will work closely with all networks to develop programming and oversee production.The Scripps category television networks, with offices in Knoxville, Tenn., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit, include HGTV (100 percent ownedby Scripps) the Food Network (56 percent owned by Scripps) and Scripps’ 12percent interest in SportSouth, a regional sports network. The company hasannounced plans to launch a new network in 1999, Do-It-Yourself (DIY).The Food Network is distributed to more than 35 million U.S. households and isavailable in Canada and Japan. HGTV is distributed to more than 46 millionhouseholds. Internationally, HGTV owns 33 percent of HGTV Canada. HGTVbranded programming can be seen on networks in Japan and Australia. Scripps also operates 20 daily newspapers; nine network-affiliated televisionstations; a television programmer, Cinetel Productions; independent YellowPages directories; and United Media, a worldwide syndicator and licensor of news features and comics.