Chambers out, Opie in at Five

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The Five channel has parted company with director of programs Dan Chambers as part of its transformation into a multichannel operator, the U.K. network announced Monday.

Five chief executive Jane Lighting has replaced Chambers with her former Flextech colleague Lisa Opie, who becomes Five's new managing director of content.

Opie, who was responsible for transforming such channels as Living TV, Bravo, Challenge and Trouble into successful multichannel brands, will bring a heavyweight presence to Five's programming lineup, particularly when it comes to negotiations with Hollywood studios for U.S. fare to fuel newly launched digital networks Five Life and Five U.S.

Five has been without an experienced acquisitions team since former acquisitions boss Jay Kandola jumped ship in November to head buying at ITV.

On Opie's watch at Flextech, Living TV acquired first-run U.K. rights to such shows as "Will & Grace" and "America's Next Top Model."

Chambers is leaving Five "by mutual consent," according to Five.

"Dan has done a good job at Five and has been a wonderful colleague," Lighting said. "However, we now need a creative director with the skills and expertise to run a portfolio of channels.

"I worked with Lisa during my time at Flextech and I know that she has the expertise and ability to take Five into the next phase of its digital strategy and to develop our content strategy across all platforms."

Chambers has been Five's director of programs for three years but the network has seen its audience share decline for the past two years. Until then, it had been steadily growing audiences.

With an annual budget of just over £200 million ($380 million), Five has enjoyed success with a slew of U.S. crime shows including all three "CSI" franchises and "Law & Order" as well as such drama series as "House." But the network has had less success with comedy imports, after its most expensive acquisition, "Joey," failed to ignite audiences and reality shows such as "The Farm" failed to compete with Channel 4's "Big Brother."
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