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Zaslav: Discovery Needs to ‘Earn the Trust and Respect’ of WarnerMedia

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Discovery CEO David Zaslav, one month after the blockbuster announcement with AT&T of the deal to merge his company with WarnerMedia, acknowledged that he still has work to do to win the hearts and minds of the people he expects to bring under one big content umbrella in 2022.

“We’re going to have to earn the trust and respect of the full Warner team,” said Zaslav, speaking Tuesday at Credit Suisse’s 23rd Annual Communications Conference.

He added, “There’s a lot that we don’t know that the Warner team is the best in the world at.”

Zaslav, who is to head up the combined WarnerMedia-Discovery, made a point of calling out the nearly 100-year legacy of Warner Bros., praising the studio as “the greatest creative company in the world.”

Under the Discovery and AT&T agreement, WarnerMedia assets including HBO Max, Turner and Warner Bros. will be combined with Discovery’s portfolio of domestic and international cable channels, including Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, OWN, Food Network and HGTV. The deal for the new company, to be called Warner Bros. Discovery, is expected close in mid-2022. AT&T will get $43 billion in cash from the WarnerMedia spinoff.

The new Warner Bros. Discovery will have unique advantages compared with global streaming leaders Disney and Netflix, according to Zaslav, by combining news, sports and nonfiction TV programming with world-class scripted entertainment.

“We will be singularly focused” on content, Zaslav said, adding that the new company “starts with the motion picture business.” Warner Bros. also brings with it the greatest TV library in the world, he said. “At NBC we used to say ‘Must See TV’ but Jack Welch said, ‘Warner Bros. TV’ because all those shows were from Warner Bros.,” Zaslav said.

“My job is to make this company the place everyone wants to come,” Zaslav said. “I’m not trying to sell anything.”

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