Robertson Steps Down as Warner Syndie Chief

Aug 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Veteran syndication executive Dick Robertson, who has had a hand in the sale of more than 100 series and movie packages in his 40-year career, is retiring from his post as president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. He takes a role as senior adviser to the Warner Bros. Television Group effective immediately.

A replacement is expected to be announced this week, a Warner Bros. spokesman said.

Mr. Robertson’s second-in-command on distribution, Jim Paratore, has long been speculated upon as a replacement. But buzz among industry insiders in recent months suggested Mr. Paratore, whose contract at Warner Bros. ends in April, was talking to other studios about high-level TV executive jobs (TelevisionWeek, May 1). A Warner Bros. spokesman declined to comment on whether Mr. Paratore, who serves as both president of Telepictures Productions and executive VP of WBDTD, would be named to replace Mr. Robertson.

One insider suggested the replacement announcement would spark several changes in the executive structure at the Warner TV group.

Though Mr. Robertson, who turns 61 Wednesday, is stepping aside from day-to-day management of Warner’ syndication operation, he will continue to advise Warner Bros. Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum and the Warner Bros. TV Group on many initiatives. He will advise on business, strategic and operational issues and objectives, including current and evolving distribution platforms, programming, sponsorship and production integration scenarios and media sales, according to an announcement Monday.

“Calling someone a legend can be a clich%E9;, but in this case it’s entirely fitting,” Mr. Rosenblum said in the announcement. “Throughout his career, Dick has proven himself a creative, innovative and industry-shaping executive, anticipating and adapting to changes in the syndication marketplace ahead of the competition.”

Mr. Robertson, one of the architects of the barter advertising model used widely in TV syndication, has been at the helm of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution as its president for 17 years.

He began his career in 1965 as a salesman for WRVA-TV in Richmond, Va., and has led the sales of literally hundreds of TV projects, including “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the original “The People’s Court,” “The Love Connection,” newsmagazine “Extra,” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and the off-network run of “Friends.”

Mr. Robertson said in the announcement that he wished to thank “the thousands of sales people, research analysts, marketing executives, station GMs, programming directors, media buyers, advertisers, airline pilots, drivers and hotel personnel that had an important hand in the hundreds of deals we closed, and the tens of thousands of hours of television we delivered to the millions of viewers we entertained. Truly, this business is a team sport and one man cannot do it alone.”