Gene DeWitt Leaving SNTA

Mar 31, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A month after the Syndicated Network Television Association held a hugely successful and well-attended inaugural conference in New York, SNTA President Gene DeWitt appears to be leaving the organization.
The move takes place only a year after the group, composed of some of the industry’s largest TV syndication companies, named Mr. DeWitt, a well-respected media agency veteran, president. By hiring Mr. DeWitt SNTA members took a more proactive approach in reaching advertisers and media agencies and educating them on the potential of the $2.6 billion syndication marketplace.
The move signifies just how difficult it can be to oversee a trade organization whose membership includes some of the strongest personalities in the business. In fact, some SNTA members-and Mr. DeWitt himself-noted that they expect a buyout proposal to be offered this week, while others said that no organizational changes were in the works.
Mr. DeWitt said he expects to hear details of a buyout offer this week, but he hadn’t yet been apprised of or agreed to any settlement. “I feel as though I’ve achieved everything I came here to achieve,” he said. “I did say that to the board over the holidays and I did express an interest in perhaps moving on, because I don’t feel fully utilized here, but in terms of a final package … nothing of the sort has been discussed with me.”
Those confirming that Mr. DeWitt was set to leave following the upfront marketplace noted that the decision was mutual. “Gene was perfect to take us were we needed to go,” said one distribution president, “but we both realized that while we moved to the next stage, Gene couldn’t be fully utilized the way we both felt was best.”
Summer Search
A hunt for a successor will likely take place over the summer. Though key members of SNTA confirmed on a not-for-attribution basis that the wheels to have Mr. DeWitt leave have been set in motion, Howard Levy, executive VP of Buena Vista Television Advertising Sales and SNTA’s chairman of the board, denied that Mr. DeWitt was leaving the organization. “SNTA has not terminated Gene, nor have we had any conversations about separation,” said Mr. Levy in a carefully worded statement.
The other member companies of SNTA are King World Media Sales, Paramount Advertising Services, The Heritage Networks, Tribune Entertainment Co., Twentieth Television, Universal Domestic Television and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.
Mr. DeWitt said he may take the summer off and travel. When he returns, he might become a consultant. “It may be time for me to be an adviser,” he said. “Maybe I should be the silver fox in the room,” he added, joking about his graying hair.
He said that running SNTA has been like a “brand-management job,” he said, and “that’s been fun.”
The first National Syndication Marketplace, hosted by the SNTA was deemed a great success by media buyers and planners who attended the two-day conference in late February.
Mr. DeWitt, joined SNTA from his post as chairman and CEO of Optimedia International. Before that, for 14 years he was the founder and president of DeWitt Media, one of the first independent media companies.