The international pay television business saw the departure
of yet another high-profile executive last week, while one of the industry's
highest-ranking female executives was given another stripe.
Chris Fager, the longtime guru of E! Entertainment
Television's international-expansion strategy, is leaving the company to take a
sabbatical. And Miranda Curtis was named the new president of Tele-Communications
International Inc. (TINTA).
Those changes come in the wake of David Evans'
departure as president and CEO of TINTA and George Stein's resignation as president
and CEO of Hallmark Entertainment Networks.
Curtis, based in London, has been TINTA's executive
vice president since 1996, overseeing the company's investments in the United
Kingdom, Continental Europe and Japan. She will remain in London, now managing all of the
company's foreign holdings -- programming, as well as systems.
TINTA's announcement of that appointment was made in
conjunction with news that Liberty Media Group -- which, together with TCI Ventures Group,
owns TINTA -- is creating a separate division to house its international assets, called
Liberty Media International.
The creation of the new unit could be a further indication
that TINTA's assets will eventually be divided into two units, with the systems
properties controlled by AT&T Consumer Services Co. and the programming assets by
Tele-Communications Inc. officials speculated about such a
move when AT&T Corp.'s merger with TCI was announced. And Evans indicated at the
time of his departure that if he had remained at TINTA, his role would have been
At press time, TINTA spokeswoman Vivian Carr had not
returned phone calls concerning Curtis' new position or future strategies.
Still, one analyst pointed out that just the naming of a
replacement for Evans could mean that any division of the international programming and
system assets shouldn't be looked at as a done deal.
Curtis is a longtime veteran of TINTA and of one property
that it partially owns: She worked at Flextech plc, a British program-network company that
TINTA invested in.
As TINTA's executive vice president, she oversaw
programming joint ventures with France's Canal Plus S.A., as well as both systems and
programming alliances with Japan's Sumitomo Corp.
Meanwhile, Chris Fager is ending a 10-and-a-half-year
career at E! to take a sabbatical. Fager was most recently senior vice president of
international development, and he created the channel's overseas expansion from
scratch in 1991.
Under his direction, E!'s programming has become
available in 120 countries and 400 million households.
"At the end of the year, I became fully vested in the
stock plan," Fager explained. "So I'm taking my chips and doing my
sabbatical right now ... I haven't changed the strings on my guitar in five
years." He added that he'll also continue working on a few projects for E!.
Fager's successor hasn't been named, but one
likely candidate is his chief lieutenant, John Helmrich, currently vice president of
Janet Stilson contributed to this report.