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Sign of the Times for Schiller

4/24/2006 5:51 AM Eastern

Vivian Schiller is going to work full-time for The New York Times Co., leaving Bill Smee to step in as acting general manager of Discovery Times Channel.

Smee, who joined Discovery Communications Inc. in 2002 after 15 years at Cable News Network, has been serving as vice president of current affairs for the production group at Discovery Networks U.S. He will continue to work in that capacity as he heads up the 39 million-subscriber Discovery Times, a joint venture with NYT.

Schiller was named senior VP and GM of NYTimes.com (www.nytimes.com). She joined NYT in 2002 as senior VP and GM for Discovery Times. In 2005, she was named senior VP, television and video for NYT and executive VP and GM for the network.

Earlier this month, NYT put its 50% interest in the channel back to DCI. The price paid will be determined by a formula with a floor of $80 million and a ceiling of $135 million, to be calculated by an independent appraiser, which has yet to be selected.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in March, Discovery Holding Co. -- the publicly traded entity that includes Liberty Media Corp.’s 50% interest in DCI -- said it had estimated the value of NYT’s interest in Discovery Times to be about $103.1 million. DCI also plans to continue its strong relationship with its partner, including with its top journalists.

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Vivian Schiller will leave DCI May 5 to assume a new and prestigious position at The New York Times Co.,” said Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks U.S., in a prepared statement.

“Vivian has been an outstanding leader of Discovery Times Channel since its launch three years ago,” he added. “As the channel’s first general manager, she built an exceptional team and created world-class programming, including Off to War, which recently won a prestigious Overseas Press Club Award. The channel has grown from 14 million subscribers to 39 million today, and it continues to be the leading source of long-form, nonfiction documentaries. We are enormously proud of the progress we have made with Discovery Times Channel, and we wish Vivian the very best for her new endeavor at the Times.”

Relative to Smee, Campbell said, “Since joining DCI after a distinguished award-winning career at CNN, Bill has been integral in building the network into what it is today and is the perfect person to lead the channel during this time. In addition to running Discovery Times, Bill will continue to oversee current-affairs programming in the U.S. networks-production group.”

September