WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey is promoted to AT&T president and chief operating officer

John Stankey, president and chief operating officer of AT&T Inc.
John Stankey, chief executive of WarnerMedia, will also be president and chief operating officer of AT&T Inc.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

WarnerMedia Chief Executive John Stankey is getting a bigger role at parent company AT&T Inc.

The longtime AT&T executive has been promoted to president and chief operating officer of the Dallas-based telecommunications giant, reporting to Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, the company said Tuesday. His appointment takes effect Oct. 1.

Stankey, 56, will remain in charge of WarnerMedia, which became part of AT&T in June 2018. WarnerMedia, previously known as Time Warner Inc., consists of valuable media and entertainment assets, including the Warner Bros. film and TV studio, HBO, TBS, TNT, CNN and Cartoon Network. He joined AT&T in 1985.

The move positions the Los Angeles native as the clear successor to Stephenson. Stankey has seen his portfolio grow dramatically in the last four years. He took over DirecTV in 2015 when AT&T bought the El Segundo satellite TV firm and then he became chief executive of WarnerMedia when AT&T purchased that business.


WarnerMedia and AT&T are preparing a key subscription service called HBO Max, which will compete with Netflix and Walt Disney Co.'s upcoming offering Disney+. HBO Max will launch in 2020.

AT&T also elevated Jeff McElfresh, another veteran phone company executive, to CEO of AT&T Communications, replacing John Donovan, who has announced his retirement as head of the company’s mobile, broadband and pay-TV unit. McElfresh will report to Stankey.

“John is an outstanding executive who has led nearly every area of our business, helped shape our strategy and excelled at operations throughout his career,” Stephenson said in a statement.