Warner-Discovery board draws criticism for lack of Latinos

AT&T and Discovery on Tuesday unveiled board members to oversee the soon-to-be Warner Bros. Discovery media company, drawing criticism because the two companies immediately failed to include a Latino board member.

“By failing to bring Latino representation to the boardroom, Warner Bros. Discovery is not only missing a crucial opportunity to build bridges with our community, but also shortchanging the next generation of Latino writers, directors and artists in Hollywood and beyond — and also fans around the world,” Brenda Castillo, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said in a statement Tuesday.

The coalition posted an altered image of Warner Bros. Discovery’s logo featuring blue skies and puffy white clouds on Twitter. The group mocked the company’s tagline, “Warner Bros. Discovery … the stuff that dreams are made of,” by inserting the words: “Unless You’re Latino.”

Discovery is making finals to AT&T’s WarnerMedia, preparation absorb the $43-billion merger that was announced in May.

The deal is expected to be complete next month, allowing the New York cable programmer to swallow such storied entertainment assets as HBO, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network and the Warner Bros. film and TV studio in Burbank. Discovery will combine those properties with its HGTV, Animal Planet, Food Network and Discovery channels and international networks.

As part of the agreement, AT&T had the right to appoint seven board members and Discovery could pick six.

The 13-member board will include five people of color, but no Latinos.

“While we congratulate these new board members, especially those board members of color, on their appointments, having no Latino representation on the board of the newly combined Warner Bros. Discovery is unacceptable, period,” Castillo said in the statement.

“Consider this: Latinos make up approximately 40% of the population in California — where Warner Brothers was originally founded — but are the least represented at the executive level and board of director positions,” Castillo said.

Representatives of Discovery and AT&T declined to comment.

This month, the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists blasted WarnerMedia when it announced a lineup for the CNN+ streaming service with no Latino. The company pointed to actress/producer Eva Longoria, who will headline a food and travel show.

On Tuesday, AT&T said it had selected Samuel A. Di Piazza, former global chief executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers International, to serve as board chairman when the new company forms. AT&T shareholders will own 70% of the new company at launch.

Discovery’s longtime chief, David Zaslav, who will become CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, also claimed a seat on the board.

His mentor, cable mogul John Malone, who is currently the chairman of the Discovery board, will also become a board member of the new entity.

AT&T nominated the five diverse board members, including Debra Lee, former CEO of BET Networks; Li Haslett Chen, chief of commerce platform Narrativ; Paula A. Price, former chief financial officer of Macy’s; Geoffrey Y. Yang, managing director of the private equity firm Redpoint Ventures; and Fazal Merchant, senior advisor to Sixth Street Partners. AT&T also picked Richard W. Fisher, former CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

In addition to Malone and Zaslav, Discovery added Robert R. Bennett, managing director of Hilltop Investments; and Paul A. Gould, a managing director of the Allen & Co. investment banking firm. Both have served as Discovery directors since 2008.

The Advance/Newhouse Partnership will own more than 8% of the new entity. Advance added its CEO, Steven A. Miron, to the board. He has been a Discovery director since 2008.

Steven O. Newhouse, the co-president of Advance, will also join the board of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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