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AT&T cuts DIRECTV jobs; ESPN president steps down

S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a weekly rundown of executive changes in the U.S. media and communications industries.

TOP STORIES

* AT&T Inc. laid off more than 700 DIRECTV Inc. home installers across "all states from Florida to California," the New York Post reported Dec. 18, citing one of the affected employees. In a statement, an AT&T spokesman said the company is working to align its workforce with the changing needs of the business and the move includes some premises technician jobs.

* John Skipper on Dec. 18 resigned as president of ESPN Inc. and co-chairman of Walt Disney Co.'s Disney Media Networks due to "substance addiction." George Bodenheimer, ESPN's president from 1998 to 2011 and its executive chairman until May 2014, will serve as acting chairman of the company for the next 90 days to help Disney find a replacement for Skipper, according to a Dec. 18 post on ESPN.com. Skipper joined ESPN in 1997 as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. He assumed his current position on Jan. 1, 2012.

Media industry moves

* Former Orbitz Worldwide Inc. CEO Barney Harford will join Uber Technologies Inc. as the company's new COO, effective Jan. 2, 2018. Harford has served as an adviser to Uber since October, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a Dec. 20 official blog post.

* Time Warner Inc.'s HBO (US) said Dec. 19 that it appointed Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller executive vice presidents of HBO Documentary and Family Programming. The move comes after the announcement that Sheila Nevins, HBO's longtime president of HBO Documentary and Family Programming, will exit the network early next year. Abraham and Heller are currently working as senior vice presidents of HBO Documentary and Family Programming.

* Apple Inc. appointed Michel Coulomb as chief of the company's Indian operations, effective immediately, India's The Economic Times reported Dec. 19. Coulomb's new designation follows the reported exit of Sanjay Kaul. Coulomb, who has been with Apple for more than 14 years, was previously the company's managing director for South Asia operations.

* Madison Square Garden Co. said Dec. 18 that it named Andrew Lustgarten president of the company. Lustgarten will have oversight over MSG's entertainment and sports bookings and productions businesses, as well as all aspects of the business operations of the company's professional sports franchises. He joined Madison Square Garden in 2014 as executive vice president of corporate development and strategy. Lustgarten succeeded David O'Connor, who left the company in November, Deadline.com reported Dec. 18.

* Steve Beeks will step down as co-COO of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and co-president of Motion Picture Group at the end of the year, the company disclosed in an SEC filing. The 20-year company veteran will transition to a consultant role upon his exit as he eyes new "entrepreneurial opportunities." Beeks, who was named Motion Picture Group co-president in 2012, oversaw the studio's film production and acquisition strategic plan.

* BET (US) tapped Scott Mills to serve as president of the Viacom Inc.-owned cable network, effective Jan. 1, 2018, the company said in an SEC filing. Mills most recently was executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Viacom.

* Arthur Sulzberger Jr. will retire as publisher of The New York Times on Dec. 31. Deputy Publisher A.G. Sulzberger, who is the son of Arthur Sulzberger, will succeed his father, effective Jan. 1, 2018. New York Times Co. owns the Times.

* Liquidity Services Inc. on Dec. 14 announced the appointment of Roger Gravley as chief information officer. Gravley's appointment expands his position on the company's leadership team. He will continue as president of GovDeals, the company's online marketplace for state and local government agencies.

Communications industry moves

* Steven Cochran retired from his position as CEO of WideOpenWest Inc. The company appointed Teresa Elder as CEO, effective Dec. 14. Cochran will continue as an adviser to the company through June 30, 2018. Elder previously was president of wholesale and strategic partnerships at Sprint Corp.-owned Clearwire from 2009 to 2011.

* Cable & Wireless Communications Inc. appointed Inge Smidts CEO of the company. Smidts succeeds John Reid, who recently announced he will step down from the position of CEO in early 2018. Smidts, who most recently served as chief marketing officer of C&W parent Liberty Global plc, is expected to start in her new role in February 2018.