Bakker exits MTV int'l unit

U.K. head latest to leave company

In the latest in a series of high-profile exits from MTV Networks International, the broadcaster said that U.K. head Michiel Bakker is stepping down after about 20 years.

Bakker, who joined MTV Europe shortly before its launch, announced his departure Friday, a day after MTVNI said it was pink-slipping about 250 staffers as part of a focus on high-growth markets. As executive vp and managing director of MTV Networks U.K. and Ireland, Bakker was responsible for MTV U.K., Paramount Comedy and Nickelodeon U.K. as well as ad sales division Viacom Brand Solutions.

A spokesman for MTV said Bakker's departure was unrelated to the restructuring, which will see MTV U.K.'s creative division merged with the international production base.

"This has nothing to do with the restructure, it just seemed like the right time (for Bakker) to move on," the spokesman said.

His responsibilities, until a successor is appointed, will be split between Heather Jones, senior vp and managing director of music and comedy, and Richard Tan, senior vp finance and operations.

Bakker said he thought it was time "to turn the music off" and take stock of his future.

"I have had a great time at MTV Networks. In my time here, I have seen the company grow from a single TV channel to a portfolio of great multimedia brands, spawning an entire generation on the way and never losing its cool," he said. "The company has a great and challenging future ahead of it but I have decided it is time to turn the music off and see where life takes me."

During his tenure in Britain, Bakker steered MTV U.K. through the key developments in the U.K. multichannel television scene, including the launch of a range of home-grown rivals.

MTV Networks vice chairman Bill Roedy said Bakker had made a "tremendous contribution" to building the business.

"As one of the first employees of MTVN Europe, he helped establish far-reaching distribution for MTV across the continent," Roedy said. "In recent years, Michiel has helped build our strong multibrand portfolio of TV channels and digital media services in the U.K., making it our largest international business."

Last month, MTV U.K. head of programming Michael Barry jumped ship to take a senior programming role at BT Vision, while MTV U.K.'s digital head Angel Gambino quit in January. MTV Networks president Michael Wolf quit his post abruptly in the same month.