Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks will retire as chairman of the board of the cable giant in May.
Hendricks, a science buff who worked in academia, launched Discovery Channel in 1985 and over the years the company went from owning a handful of educational outlets to a global media juggernaut filled with popular reality shows. Besides its flagship channel Discovery, the company also owns TLC, Animal Planet and 50% of Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network.
Discovery did not say who would succeed Hendricks when he resigns at the company's annual meeting May 16. If the company decides to go with an insider, Zaslav would be the obvious choice.
In a letter to the board of directors, Hendricks said he plans to "spend the next few years traveling the planet and discovering the questions and mysteries that intrigue us all."
When Hendricks created Discovery, there was very little original programming on cable TV. With backing from cable mogul John Malone, he turned Discovery into an educational outlet with a heavy focus on nature, science and space.
Hendricks stepped down as CEO of Discovery in 2004. Since then the Discovery networks have added more commercial fare in the form of reality shows including "Jon & Kate Plus 8" and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," both of which aired on TLC.
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