Jonathan Webb upped at Virgin Media

Named executive director after departure of Malcolm Wall

LONDON -- Cable TV group Virgin Media has promoted Jonathan Webb to the post of executive director of Virgin Media, adding responsibility for Virgin sales house IDS to an existing portfolio that includes oversight of pay TV channels Living, Virgin 1, Bravo and Challenge.

The appointment, announced Wednesday, follows the departure of former Virgin Media CEO Malcolm Wall earlier this year as well as speculation that Virgin Media is looking for a buyer for its TV division in a bid to pay down its debt.

Last week, Virgin announced the sale of its TV shopping business Sit-Up to the German investment house Aurelius for an undisclosed sum. The once-lucrative business recently lost carriage on the Freeview TV platform and the company took a £54.8 million ($80.4 million) impairment charge in the fourth quarter.

The group announced more than 2,000 redundancies at the end of last year and said it had agreed to a deal to postpone repayment on its £;4.3 billion ($6.3 billion) debt until 2012, giving it an extra three years to refinance its loans.

UKTV, Virgin's joint venture channel group with the BBC, will not come under Webb's purview. If the television business is sold, the BBC has the first option to buy back the remainder of the U.K. TV business that it does not own.

"I'm delighted that Jonathan has agreed to take on this new challenge," Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said. "In recent years, Living, Bravo, Virgin 1 and Challenge have established themselves as the strongest brands in multichannel television and, under Jonathan's leadership, I'm confident that they can become stronger still."
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