In a surprise move, Time Warner said it plans to replace the chief executive officer (CEO) of its beleaguered AOL property with a television executive.
Late Wednesday, the company announced that Randy Falco, president and chief operating officer (COO) of NBC Universal Television Group, will replace Jonathan Miller as chairman and CEO of AOL.
Time Warner did not disclose when Falco would take over the post and when Miller will step down. The company also did not say if Miller will remain with AOL or leave the company, and whether the decision to replace him was Time Warner’s or if Miller is leaving on his own.
"I’m truly excited about joining the superb teams at AOL and Time Warner," Falco said in a statement about his new position. "AOL is clearly headed in the right direction, and I have full faith in its future as a leader among Time Warner businesses. My challenge will be to execute on the strategy that I believe will make AOL once again the leader of the online world."
AOL had been in decline when Miller took over the company in 2002, as cable and broadband Internet companies were taking share from AOL’s once-thriving Internet access business. In August, AOL announced a restructuring of its business model and the layoffs of up to 5,000 employees in an effort to cut costs and grow revenue.
"Rarely do you come into an organization with as many challenges as AOL faced when I arrived and then have the great satisfaction of putting it on sound footing," Miller said in a statement of his role in trying to turn AOL around. "I’ve had that opportunity at AOL over the past four years, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished."
At NBC, Falco has been responsible for the group’s commercial and operational functions, including network and cable sales, affiliate relations, cable distribution, business development, information technology, network and studio operations, worldwide television distribution and Telemundo, a Spanish-language television show. Previously, Falco served as president of the NBC Universal Television Network Group and as group president of the NBC Television Network.
Falco also won six Emmy Awards for his role as president of the NBC Television Network and COO of the Olympics for the following broadcasts: the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
-Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service (New York Bureau)