Sky execs at Premiere as reinforcements

Three move north in attempt to rescue pay TV group

COLOGNE, Germany -- Premiere CEO Mark Williams has brought in the big guns from Sky Italia to try and rescue the floundering German pay TV group.

Sky Italia's Giovanni Brunelli, Marcello Maggioni and Gaetano Pannito have moved north to take up executive positions at Premiere, with Brunelli named senior vp customer operations, Maggioni appointed senior vp sales and marketing and Pannito named vp sales.

The appointments follow a disastrous month for Premiere, which has seen the resignation of its CFO and a profit warning that decimated the company's share price. Premiere also had to admit that subscriber figures were almost 1 million lower than previously announced.

Williams is counting on Sky Italia's dream team to kick-start Premiere ahead of the key Christmas season. Their track record speaks for itself. Since launching in 2003, Sky Italia has soared and boasts 4.56 million subscribers. Premiere, which launched in 1990 in a larger TV market, has only 2.4 million direct subscribers.

News Corp., which owns Sky Italia, is the largest shareholder in Premiere, with a 25% stake.