Garth Ancier Stepping Down As BBC Worldwide America Chief

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Garth Ancier is stepping down as president of BBC Worldwide America in March 2010 after three years at the helm of the company that includes BBC America.

He will become non-executive director, essentially an adviser, to the company, which plans to search for a replacement.

The longtime programmer (The WB, NBC, Turner Broadcasting, Fox) oversaw a 78% profit increase in the U.S. business, BBCWA said.

garthancier

BBC America's distribution has risen to 65 million homes and the company launched an HD version, which has grown slowly, and is preparing to launch a pre-school channel, Cbeebies. The HD channel is now in 18 systems since lighting up in July, the network said.

Ad sales at the channel, which is distributed in a partnership with Discovery Communications, were brought in house and an in-house affiliate team was hired to broaden the U.S. channels' distribution. A pet project of Ancier's was the launch of the hour-long nightly newscast BBC World News America, which won a Peabody Award and received six Emmy nominations.

The company's digital businesses grew and BBCA is now a top-15 provider of TV shows on iTunes in the U.S., as imported hits such as Top Gear, Torchwood and Robin Hood have been popular. BBCA also distributes shows on Amazon, Netflix and Xbox.

Despite gains and some high-profile shows, including in the sci-fi realm, the channel's British fare has not attracted big audiences. BBC America averaged a 0.1 household rating in primetime during October, flat gauged against October 2008, according to Nielsen figures. Among total viewers, the network drew 101,000 primetime viewers, down 14% from the 118,000 viewers the previous year.

The U.S. business also includes representing BBC Worldwide Productions, and BBC's reality juggernaut Dancing With The Stars is about to wrap its ninth season on ABC. Jane Tranter, former controller of BBC Fiction, was recruited to oversee the U.S. scripted and unscripted production operation. Matt Forde was recently appointed to oversee the sales and distribution business. In Home Entertainment, Ancier oversaw the success of documentary Planet Earth, which has now sold more than 4 million units in the U.S.

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