New York -- Viewer's Choice president Jim Heyworth
announced his resignation last Thursday, after serving as the pay-per-view service's
head since its inception in 1987.
Heyworth will remain on board through Oct. 31, the company
said. Viewer's Choice has hired an executive-search firm to search for a successor.
The move comes as the new Viewer's Choice board -- led
by Tele-Communications Inc. and Time Warner Inc. -- attempts to lay out a plan for the
network as it enters the digital-technology age.
Heyworth had survived several Viewer's Choice
ownership changes since the network launched as Home Premiere Television 11 years ago. The
single-channel Home Premiere service, owned by a handful of MSOs, merged with Viacom
Inc.'s PPV service a year later to form Viewer's Choice.
But after adding several other partners, including a number
of studios, the ownership structure of Viewer's Choice was again changed in June with
the closing of Request Television. TCI and Time Warner each assumed one-third interests in
the channel, while Comcast Corp., MediaOne and Cox Communications Inc. hold a combined
Sources close to the situation said the new regime had
already formed an executive-search team to find a successor prior to Heyworth's
Sources said the new leader could come from outside of the
PPV and cable industries.
"The new board of directors wants to change the role
and authority of the president, and after 11 years, it is a good time for me to make a
change," Heyworth said.
One PPV executive close to the board said there will most
likely be other changes within Viewer's Choice in the near future.
"I think that you'll see some more moves before
its all over," the source said, declining to be more specific.
Heyworth -- who oversaw the expansion of the network from
one variety PPV channel to a 36-channel near-video-on-demand operation -- will remain on
board to oversee the network's transition from TCI's Headend in the Sky platform
to a new satellite in October. After that, Heyworth said, he would like to work with
another start-up company, although he doubts that it would be in PPV.
Heyworth's resignation was met with some surprise from
industry executives, who praised him for his professionalism.
"TVKO and Viewer's Choice have had a long and
mutually beneficial relationship, which allowed us to bring a lot of significant events to
PPV," said Mark Taffet, senior vice president of programming and operations for TVKO.
"Jim played a major role in bringing those events, and we are appreciative of