In an internal memo seen by Deadline, Gerhard Zeiler, president of WBD International, announced Blair̵7;s departure and revealed that his position would not be replaced after “much deliberation”.
According to Zeiler, Blair will “make the transition over the summer and partner closely with Zeiler to further empower WBD’s content licensing team”. The move is being described as “a necessary structural change to the design of our team that flattens and streamlines the content licensing organization.”
“Last year, we unveiled a new organization structure for The International, which we believed best positioned us for success at that time,” Zieler said. “But we also recognized that in an ever-changing industry and market, we will need to continue to grow in a thoughtful and strategic manner alongside the environment around us.
“Seven months into 2023, although we are confident of our trajectory as a business, we are at another inflection point, and one where the global economy has not bounced back as fast as we had hoped.
“Thus, today I am announcing that Robert Blair, President, WBD International TV Distribution, will be leaving WBD.”
Blair has been with WBD and its Warner Bros. predecessor companies for a quarter century, overseeing international sales strategy for major titles such as game of Thrones, glitter And dragon house,
He joined Warner Bros. International Television Distribution in 1998 as General Manager of Canadian Operations. He previously worked as a television director at PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.
Blair was PROMOTED To lead WarnerMedia’s international sales division under worldwide distribution boss Jeffrey Schlesinger in 2019 played his part In the previous year’s restructuring, which followed the Discovery merger and the creation of WBD. Schlesinger departed in 2020.
Zeiler’s note today said his departure was “no reflection of his performance” and was instead “a change we need to make as we continue to refine our efficiency and cost structure.”
“My humble thanks to Robert for his outstanding leadership, talent and effort in helping us get to where we are today,” Zeiler wrote. “Robert’s contribution to the company in his 25 years has been outstanding and can be measured in the multi-billion dollar sales contracts he closes each year. Despite being known as a difficult negotiator, he is respected by all his clients. He is also an exceptional leader who has mentored many talents within the company and his team admires and values him.
Zeiler is writing from experience – he must have been sitting across the table from Blair when he was at the helm of RTL, which was a major buyer of Warner content when he ran the European Network Group.