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Black, Carole Lynn

Black, Carole Lynn

(1944-)
Lifetime Entertainment Services

Overview

Carole Black is widely regarded as one of the most influential women in the entertainment business industry. As president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation and the Walt Disney Company, Black heads a company that includes Lifetime Television, the Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women, and Lifetime Online. The Lifetime channel alone reaches 80 million households in the country. With no prior broadcasting industry experience, Black became the first woman ever to head a network owned–and–operated station in a major market in her position as president and general manager of KNBC–TV, Los Angeles. She went on to lead the station to become the number one in its market. Before that, Black had a very successful ten–year history as an executive at the Walt Disney Company.

Personal Life

Black divides her time between her two–bedroom apartment in Manhattan, New York, and a house in Beverly Hills, California. She is divorced and has one son, Eric, a television producer.

She serves on the board of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society (HRTS), the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE), American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT), the Walter Kaitz Foundation, Cable Positive, and Cable in the Classroom. She is a member of the Cable Television Administration and Marketing Society, Inc. (CTAM), the International Radio & Television Society Foundation, Inc. (IRTS), New York Women in Communications, New York Women in Film, Women in Cable & Telecommunications, and the Women's Sports Foundation. Black was named one of America's 100 Most Important Women by Ladies' Home Journal in 1999 and listed as one of New York's 100 Most Influential Women in Business by Crain's New York Business. In 2001, Black was ranked 18 among CableFAX Magazine's Top 100, and The Hollywood Reporter has repeatedly named her as one of the Top Women in Entertainment. She received the Media Leader of the Year Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners of Los Angeles in 2001.

Black was born July 18, 1944, and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was brought up by her grandparents, who were Armenian, after her parents divorced when she was very young. She gives credit to her grandmother, who, she told People, "made me feel I could do everything in life" and named both grandparents as her mentors in CableFAX Magazine. She received a Bachelor of Art's degree in English literature from Ohio State University in 1966.

After graduation, Black began as an assistant brand manager at Procter & Gamble in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. She helped develop campaigns for Gleem and Crest toothpastes and Head & Shoulders shampoo, among others. She told Broadcasting & Cable years later, "My experience at Procter & Gamble taught me that branding is about finding the uniqueness in two very similar products, presenting that positive uniqueness to the consumer and driving that message home constantly." She stayed with the company for three years, until 1969.

After the birth of her son that year, Black became a freelance writer and marketing consultant in order to work out of her home. In 1972 she became a writer for TransAmerican Press, a group of magazines that covered the transportation industry. Black was named executive vice president of the company in 1981 and moved to Los Angeles to run TransAmerican, which later folded.

Black then joined advertising agency DDB Needham in Chicago, Illinois, in 1983 as an account supervisor. She stayed with the firm until 1986, eventually becoming senior vice president, management representative.

Career Details

It was that year she decided to jump into the entertainment industry, taking an executive position at the Walt Disney Company. As vice president, worldwide marketing home video, she was credited with initiating brand management and the flourishing sell–through business of Disney–branded films. Under her guidance, the domestic video division, as well as the Disney brand itself, became the leader worldwide. In 1988, Black was promoted to senior vice president of marketing and television at Disney, where she developed and launched the successful children's programming franchise with The Disney Afternoon, as well as leading one of the most profitable syndication deals ever with Home Improvement.

In 1994, Black left Disney to accept the position of president and general manager of KNBC–TV and became the first woman to head a network owned–and–operated station in a major market. Although well respected in her field, Black lacked any broadcast experience, causing her appointment to shock some industry insiders. She quickly caught on, however, and used her marketing background to promote the Los Angeles television station as a brand and highlight its high–quality programs among viewers. She boosted the number of female viewers by the addition of lifestyle segments and positive human interest features. Under her guidance, the network rose from second to become the leader in its marketplace in less than two years. In 1998 the station became the first to win seven out of seven weekday and weekend news races during the sweeps period, beating its own previous record of six out of seven in 1996 and 1997.

Black was named president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services in February of 1999, replacing former president Doug McCormick. As soon as Black assumed the post on March 22 of the same year, she began making some important changes. Launched in 1984 and designated as "Television for Women" in 1994, the network easily leads the female demographic in cable, though many female cable subscribers weren't familiar with it. Feeling that the network had become lax due to a lack of strong competition, Black brought a new team of executives to the marketing department and gave it more money in order to raise the station's profile and gain greater awareness among consumers. Brand recognition, Black knows, is key, as competition in the field has recently sprung up with Oxygen Media, partly owned by Oprah Winfrey, with Turner Broadcasting System now in the mix.

About half of the programming on Lifetime is supplied by the broadcast networks. Shows including Golden Girls and Designing Women are run every day. The ex–Fox series purchased by Lifetime, Party of Five, airs five days a week, while Chicago Hope runs four. The network also runs games of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) that, though not big ratings–getters, improve the network's image, according to Black. Black also has plans to beef up Lifetime's original programming line–up as well, launching several prime time series and a daily live information show produced by ABC News. Black has also built on the success of such popular Lifetime fare as Intimate Portrait and the acclaimed series Any Day Now and plans to expand its Internet presence through its Lifetime Online unit. Black's initiatives yielded results as early as October 1999, when Lifetime became number one among basic cable viewers in the total day in all women's demographics, including women in the 18–34 and 25–54 categories. Continuing its momentum, Lifetime snagged the number two position in both prime time and total day household ratings in January 2000 after Black had been on the job less than a year. The network also continues its dominance in the female demographic. When asked of her five–year plan, Black told Crain's New York Business, "Professionally, to continue to make Lifetime the leading source of entertainment, information and support for women."

Black is also committed to making the network even more socially active and, in return, the network has been recognized by such leading women's groups and organizations as the National Women's Political Caucus, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Women in Communications, the New York Women's Agenda, and Women in Cable & Telecommunications, among others. Lifetime's initiative for breast cancer awareness garnered them the 1996 Golden CableACE award, the cable industry's highest honor. Black led Lifetime's public service campaign begun in 1999, Caring for Kids: Our Lifetime Commitment, advocating innovations in childcare. In her testimony to the Senate Help Committee on the initiative, Black said, "It's a subject close to my heart both personally and professionally. Having been a single working mother, I know first–hand how challenging childcare can be." Black and Lifetime have also been promoting the involvement of women in politics and have teamed up with the National Organization for Women (NOW) seeking to advocate on behalf of women worldwide with a campaign tentatively called "Standup Against Violence."

Chronology: Carole Lynn Black

1944: Born.

1966: Received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Ohio State University.

1966: Began as an assistant brand manager at Procter & Gamble.

1972: Started as a writer for TransAmerican Press.

1983: Joined DDB Needham advertising agency as an account supervisor.

1986: Became vice president, worldwide marketing home video of The Walt Disney Company.

1988: Promoted to senior vice president, marketing, television at Disney.

1994: Accepted the position of president and general manager of KNBC–TV.

1996: KNBC became the leader in its marketplace.

1999: Named president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services.

Social and Economic Impact

Black has charted new territory for women throughout her illustrious career, which is littered with achievements and awards. With the female market always in mind, Black spoke to women early in her career, helping launch the "softer side of Sears" campaign when she worked at an advertising agency. When she was vice president at Disney, Black was credited with boosting home video sales and creating a branding strategy that targeted working mothers. At KNBC, she was the first female to head a commercial television station in a major market and brought more female viewers to the network by the addition of lifestyle segments and positive human interest features that women wanted to see. Along the way, she helped build brand identity and build sales with better ratings and more viewers. At Lifetime, she continues to develop programming and entertainment designed specifically for women. She is credited with bringing newer, fresher programming to the station as well as enhancing its image with her savvy marketing maneuvers.

In a position to provide more than just entertainment for women, Black has also been a staunch advocate for a number of women's issues that she has brought to public attention through the company she heads. As part of Lifetime's childcare initiative, Black even expanded part of the company's website to help families with child care problems contact elected officials to share their stories with them. Committed to such causes as child care and breast cancer awareness, Black and Lifetime have been recognized for their efforts by several prestigious nonprofit organizations and leading women's groups.

Sources of Information

Contact at: Lifetime Entertainment Services
309 W. 49th St.
New York, NY 10019
Business Phone: (212)957–4610
URL: http://www.lifetimetv.com

Bibliography

"About Lifetime." Lifetime Entertainment Services, 2001. Available at http://www.lifetimetv.com.

American Women in Radio and Television, 2001. Available at http://www.awrtla.org.

"Black is Golden." Broadcasting & Cable, 19 March 2001.

"Building a Better Brand in L.A." Broadcasting & Cable, 3 June 1996.

CableFAX Magazine. 6 October 2001. Available at http://cabletoday.com.

"Careers of Humanities Graduates." Ohio State University, 2001. Available at http://www.cohums.ohio–state.edu.

"Carole Black." People Weekly, 14 May 2001.

"Femmes Fence for Cable Auds." Variety, 6 December 1999.

"Lifetime Entertainment Services." Hoover's. November 2001. Available at http://www.hoovers.com.

"Lifetime Entertainment Services." The Industry Standard. November 2001. Available at http://www.thestandard.com.

"New York's 100 Most Influential Women in Business." Crain's New York Business. Available at http://www.crainsny.com.

"Opportunity of a Lifetime." Broadcasting & Cable, 18 October 1999.

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