HBO chief takes leave after arrest

HBO chief takes leave after arrest
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First Published: Wed, May 09 2007. 07 34 PM IST
Updated: Wed, May 09 2007. 07 34 PM IST
New York: The chairman and chief executive of HBO, Chris Albrecht, has announced that he was taking a leave of absence after being charged with assaulting a girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot early on 6 May.
Albrecht said that he was an alcoholic and that the incident, which he did not characterize, resulted from a lapse in his sobriety.
In an e-mail message to all HBO employees, Albrecht said that he was “deeply sorry for what occurred in Las Vegas this weekend” and that it represented ”a wake-up call to me of a weakness I thought I had overcome long ago.”
“I had been a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 13 years,” he wrote. ”Two years ago, I decided that I could handle drinking again. Clearly, I was wrong.”
He said he would use his leave “to go back to working with” Alcoholics Anonymous.
The chief operating officer of HBO, Bill Nelson, will assume Albrecht’s duties temporarily. ”We take these matters very seriously and will monitor the situation closely,” Richard D. Parsons, the chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, which owns HBO, said.
Albrecht’s leave comes at an inopportune time for HBO. Hours after the Las Vegas police released Albrecht on 6 May, the cable channel broadcast the latest episode of its marquee series, “The Sopranos,” which will end its six-season run on 10 June.
Officer Martin Wright of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said the incident took place about 3 am on 6 May in the valet parking area of the MGM Grand Hotel, the site of a championship bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. HBO broadcast the fight.
The officer described the altercation as ”a battery,” and then defined such an offence as involving ”hitting, choking or shoving.” Police have said the victim was Albrecht’s girlfriend, but they have not released her name.
In his message to employees, Albrecht said, ”While I am not at liberty to discuss the incident as the district attorney and my lawyer are still determining the facts, it is my hope to do so in the near future.”
His lawyer, David Chesnoff, said that the district attorney had not yet filed charges of domestic violence against him, although such charges were pending.
Time Warner’s TV networks - primarily HBO, which is a premium pay channel, and Turner Broadcasting - are crucial to the company’s bottom line. They generated revenue of $10.3.billion (Rs44,290 crore) last year, nearly a quarter of Time Warner’s revenue, according to its most recent annual report.
Albrecht has been chairman and chief executive of HBO since July 2002, and he had worked at the channel for nearly two decades before that. Nelson, the chief operating officer, is one of nearly a dozen executives who report directly to Albrecht.
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First Published: Wed, May 09 2007. 07 34 PM IST