Stephen Chao, the one-time programming boy wonder, is out as president of USA
Cable, officials said Wednesday.
Chao -- who joined USA Network in 1998 as president of programming and later
was promoted to lead the USA Cable unit -- resigned Wednesday. With his exit,
USA's cable networks will be integrated into the USA Entertainment Group, which
includes Studios USA and USA Films.
Effective Nov. 5, Michael Jackson, formerly CEO of Channel Four Television,
will assume the posts of president and CEO of USA Entertainment, new
Chao won't be replaced. USA Network president Doug Herzog, Sci Fi Channel
president Bonnie Hammer and president of emerging networks Patrick Vien will
report to Jackson.
Chao, who was credited with inventing 'tabloid TV' while at the Fox broadcast
network, was recruited to join USA by his former boss at Fox, USA Networks
chairman Barry Diller.
But under Chao's watch, USA Network -- like a number of general-entertainment
cable networks -- has continued to struggle to craft a unique brand and
identity. The network also saw its ratings tumble when it lost its juggernaut --
World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. programming.
In a prepared statement, Chao said, 'I believe USA, Sci Fi and our emerging
networks will benefit from this new structure in two ways: one, from creative
and business integration with the company's television- and film-production
divisions, and two, from the direct input of Michael Jackson.'
In the third quarter, USA's primetime ratings were down 15 percent to a 1.7,
according to Nielsen Media Research.