Sky's Barnes joins Five for digi net duties

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LONDON -- RTL-owned Five has wooed Sky One managing director Hannah Barnes to lead its two recently launched digital networks, replacing existing head Nick Thorogood, it was announced Wednesday.

The shake-up comes amid increasing speculation that Five CEO Jane Lighting may leave the broadcaster, leaving the reins to recently appointed managing director of content Lisa Opie.

In the past year, the U.K.'s smallest channel has seen its audience slide -- despite gaining increased distribution on free-to-air digital platform Freeview -- which resulted in the departure of program head Dan Chambers at the end of last year. A Five spokesman rejected speculation on the matter.

Barnes oversaw BSkyB's main entertainment channels Sky One, Sky Two and Sky Three. She will take control of four-month-old channels Five Life, which airs such shows as "Dawson's Creek" and "Home and Away," and Five U.S., which has rights to the "CSI" franchise.

Opie said Barnes has a "very impressive track record" in multichannel affairs. The two worked together at Virgin Media-owned pay TV channel group Flextech.

"I'm delighted we've been able to attract such a talented executive as Hannah to run our multichannel operation," Opie said. "She has a very impressive track record in the digital marketplace, and her experience and creativity will be a tremendous asset to Five.

"I'd like to thank Nick, who came in to launch the new digital channels and has done a fantastic job in firmly establishing them so quickly and successfully."

Barnes joined Sky in May from Flextech, where she was deputy channel controller of Living TV. She held a number of roles at Flextech, including program senior acquisitions executive.
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