BBC Worldwide taps Ancier for top post

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Former WB Network chairman Garth Ancier has been named president of BBC Worldwide Americas' U.S. operations, part of a corporate restructure that will bring all of the company's U.S. activity under the leadership of one person.

In the newly created post, Ancier will be responsible for developing the BBC brand in the U.S., including expanding BBC Worldwide's portfolio of channels, which includes the flagship cable channel BBC America, now in more than 53 million homes. Management also has expressed a desire to expand its BBC World news channel in the U.S. (it's now in about 2 million homes) and to launch a preschool kids channel and a high-definition channel.

Ancier also will work with U.S. networks on behalf of Los Angeles-based BBC Worldwide Prods. to produce shows and formats. The company's credits include such unscripted shows as ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and NBC's "Grease: You're the One That I Want." It also is a producer on three scripted pilots in contention for fall 2007 -- "Viva Laughlin!" (CBS), "The Thick of It" (ABC) and "I'm With Stupid" (NBC) -- and recently signed a first-look deal with Sony Pictures Television.

In addition, Ancier will manage BBC Worldwide's U.S. TV and video sales business and oversee the introduction of the company's Web-based program delivery system, bbc.com, which is in the process of approval.

Ancier will be based in BBC Worldwide Americas' New York headquarters, reporting to BBC Worldwide CEO John Smith. All U.S. businesses will report to Ancier effective immediately.

Ancier also was the inaugural entertainment president at Fox, head of the Walt Disney Co.'s TV production unit, entertainment president at NBC and executive vp programming at Turner Broadcasting System Inc. He also created and executive produced the long-running daytime talk show "Ricki Lake."

"Garth has an impeccable pedigree in U.S. media," Smith said. "His experience with America's most formidable networks, in both traditional and new media, will be fantastic for us as we grow the BBC brand in this market. Bringing all of our businesses in the U.S. under the guidance of someone with Garth's experience and vision will be invaluable for BBC Worldwide as we move to double the scale of our business in this territory."

Ancier was chairman of WB Network from May 2004 until its merger with UPN in September, when the CW was launched. He also was the WB's chief programmer from 1994-99, overseeing production on such series as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Dawson's Creek," "7th Heaven" and "Charmed."

Following the WB-UPN merger, Ancier stayed within the Warner Bros. family, running In2TV, the Warners/AOL broadband television network. A search will be conducted for his replacement at In2TV. Ancier also recently executive produced a syndicated talk show pilot for Warners-based Telepictures Prods. with Gail Steinberg.

At BBC, Ancier will sit on and be accountable to the BBC Worldwide Americas board along with Darren Childs, managing director of global channels; David Moody, managing director of digital media; Mark Young, managing director of global sales; and Wayne Garvie, director of content and production.

Ancier said the company approached him about the position as the WB was shutting its doors last year.

"This is such an interesting collection of assets, particularly from the programming side, that I was intrigued," Ancier said. "I've always been a big viewer of the BBC in Europe and a little bit less here in the U.S., but the interesting relationship between the two cultures in the English-speaking world and the shared formats and sheer amount of product that's been successful on American television were areas that I wanted to explore."

Childs noted the importance of having one person oversee BBC Worldwide Americas' businesses and growth strategy.

"This is whole new level of ambition for (the BBC in) America," he said. "We have to be integrated and quick in terms of decision-making in order to operate at an optimum level in the U.S."
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