In a major promotion and corporate restructuring, Stephen
Chao has been named president of USA Cable -- the new name for USA Networks, the division
of USA Networks Inc. that includes USA Network and Sci Fi Channel, officials said last
Chao, previously USA Networks president of programming and
marketing, will now oversee ad sales, finance, administration, programming, marketing and
"the strategic growth of new services and digital offerings." USA is one of the
few programmers that has yet to launch a digital network, and officials have said they
have plans to buy or create new cable networks.
Chao couldn't be reached for comment last week about USA's
plans for new networks.
As part of the changes, Stephen Brenner, who had formerly
been a co-president of USA Networks along with Chao, will assume the new post of senior
vice president of USAi. Brenner will work with Barry Baker, president and chief operating
officer, in overseeing the "corporation's distribution agenda."
Brenner had previously been president of operations for USA
Networks; now most of his old duties will fall under Chao.
Affiliate relations for the cable division are being moved
to corporate under the moniker Affiliate Distribution, a service of USAi. That move,
according to a USAi spokeswoman, allows for distribution of USA's stable -- including USA
Network, Sci Fi, Home Shopping Network and even interactive services -- to handled
centrally, taking advantage of Brenner's expertise. Brenner would also now be in charge of
getting carriage for new networks that USA launches.
In a prepared statement, Baker said "establishing
Affiliate Distribution as a corporate function of USAi is the next best step in securing
access to markets, a critical focal point of USA's businesses. Great content can't be
appreciated and products can't be sold without solid distribution of these services."
Doug Holloway, USA's executive vice president of affiliate
relations and network distribution, will move to corporate along with Brenner, and will
continue to report to him, officials said.
Chao and Brenner were named co-presidents of USA Networks
in 1998 by chairman Barry Diller.