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Loesch gears up to take reins at new Hasbro/Discovery JV kids net

Slated for a fall 2010 launch, Hasbro and Discovery's JV channel recently took one step closer to getting off the ground with the recent appointment of veteran kids entertainment exec Margaret Loesch as CEO. KidScreen senior writer Kate Calder caught up with the woman who launched Fox Kids in the '90s - and has had a significant hand in the production of countless kids hits, including Smurfs, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and Animaniacs - just days before she was set to start work at the new net.
September 4, 2009

Slated for a fall 2010 launch, Hasbro and Discovery’s JV channel recently took one step closer to getting off the ground with the recent appointment of veteran kids entertainment exec Margaret Loesch as CEO. KidScreen senior writer Kate Calder caught up with the woman who launched Fox Kids in the ’90s – and has had a significant hand in the production of countless kids hits, including Smurfs, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and Animaniacs – just days before she was set to start work at the new net.

What attracted you to this position?
I was attracted to the position for two over-arching reasons. First, on a personal level, when I saw the job description I felt that my experience addressed every single component of the requirements. The other reason, and probably the greater one, was that when Hasbro’s CEO Brian Goldner called me to explore my interest and I heard his and Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s vision and goals, I was so excited. You’ve got two companies with the right resources, at the right time, with the right need of the audience and the consumer.

What will your experience bring to the channel?
I have a pretty extensive Rolodex of talent in the business from my long-time relationships. What I would like to bring is an eclectic assortment of creative talent to work with us and a very eclectic slate of projects. I think the board with whom I’m working is open to that – that’s the main thing, the people I know and the ideas that they have. I think I can be a magnet because I have a history with a lot of the creative talent and I also really enjoy nurturing and mentoring new talent. That combination will be of benefit to the channel.

What market opportunities do you see for the channel?
I think there’s a huge opportunity. There are those that scratch their heads and say, ‘Wait a minute, there’s already Nick and Cartoon Network and Disney Channel and ABC Family.’ But the truth is there are probably 100 to 200 channels for adults, but really very few targeted to children, their parents or families. You can only name a handful, which in and of itself provides an opportunity.

Are you interested in sourcing projects from third-party producers and creatives?

Absolutely. I’ve gotten a lot of calls and letters from within the creative community, even though I haven’t started yet. In speaking with David Zaslav and Brian Goldner, yours was one of the earliest questions I asked. A hit can come from anywhere and I was hopeful that they would be open to me casting a wide net and, indeed, they are.

Will the channel have a traditional structure?
You can expect traditional combined with a few surprises. One thing has changed a great deal since the last channel I launched, which was the Hallmark channel. There’s now this multi-platform opportunity and the growth of digital channels. Of course, with some of the hires I’ll be making, I’m looking for people very steeped in the technology world, but also with creative skill – a combination of creative and technology, which will be at the core of what we do.

How closely will you be working with newly established Hasbro Studios in L.A.?
I anticipate I’ll be working very closely because it will be a key source of programming, a key source of production for the network. I’ve know [president] Stephen Davis for a while. I first met him when he was with Carlton and I was very impressed with his professionalism and demeanor. Clearly one advantage that the channel has is its access to some presold brands and existing project that kids and families know about, everything from Monopoly to Transformers. He won’t be the only producer I’ll be working with, but he’ll be a close ally and supplier of programming.

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