MTVN's U.K. chief Bakker makes exit after 20 years

Move comes on heels of int'l staff cuts

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 (HR 3/5).

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.

Bakker's responsibilities, until a successor is appointed, will be split be-tween Heather Jones, senior vp and managing director of music and comedy, and Richard Tan, senior vp finance and operations.

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 homegrown rivals.

Under the new restructuring, MTV will merge its MTV U.K. content and creative group into its international creative hub, but such areas as ad sales, digital media and consumer products will be unaffected by the cuts.

It will restructure some of its London-based operations and focus resources in emerging markets such as Latin America and Eastern Europe as part of its localization strategy.