One of the founding executives of the 9-year-old WB network, Jed Petrick, announced Tuesday that he was stepping down as president and chief operating officer.
Petrick's exit comes three months after WB Chairman Jamie Kellner unveiled his succession plan, installing two other longtime lieutenants in the top positions.
Kellner bypassed Petrick who, in his three years as president, has been responsible for many of the business operations, including advertising sales, standards and practices, children's programming and affiliate station relations.
Kellner has said he expects to retire in May, at the end of the TV season. In September, he and Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer tapped Garth Ancier to become chairman of the WB, and Jordan Levin to be chief executive.
"It was not a huge disappointment," Petrick said of that decision. "It's a creative business, and most of my job has been doing the blocking and tackling.... The timing was right to start something new."
Petrick, 47, has not identified his next career stop, but probably will return to his home in New York when he leaves in April. Although he has two years remaining on his contract, his bosses agreed to let him go early. The WB is owned by Time Warner Inc. and Tribune Co., which publishes The Times.
Petrick has spent nearly two decades in the trenches of the TV business. After stints at an advertising agency and CBS, he joined Fox Broadcasting Co. in 1988 as an advertising account executive.
Along with Kellner, Petrick negotiated Fox's deal in 1993 to bring the National Football League to the network. In 1994, he was one of the first executives hired by Kellner to launch the WB.
During Petrick's tenure, the WB increased its advertising revenue each year, including more than $725 million in advance sales of commercial time for the season that began in September. Petrick also acquired rights for the animated cartoon series, "Pokemon," establishing the WB as a force on Saturday mornings.
"We've been chugging along pretty nicely," Petrick said. "But change is good."