LONDON — Sam Chisholm, the departing British Sky Broadcasting chief exec, has been appointed by the Labor government to help lead the world’s biggest project to celebrate the coming millennium, the controversial Millennium Dome in London.
The 57-year-old New Zealander — who is leaving his job at the satcaster for health reasons at the end of the year — will take on the unpaid post of deputy chairman of the New Millennium Experience Co., the operating company set up to construct the $1.2 billion dome in Greenwich in east London.
Chisholm is an unusual choice in that he is not remotely considered a Labor insider, but the government is clearly trading on his tough guy rep and the credit he gets for having turned around BSkyB’s fortunes from when it was losing $22 million a week in 1990, the year Chisholm took over.
Chisholm’s task will be to bring the currently delayed dome project up to speed, and to coordinate the use of national lottery, private and public money for both the dome and the exhibition it will be used for in the year 2000. Chisholm will head up an exec committee of board members.
The dome has had many detractors, including Labor politicians prior to the party coming to power.
Recent controversies include the use of environmentally unfriendly materials and the award of much of the construction work to German companies after it was deemed no British contractors were up to the task.
Building the dome at Greenwich is significant in that Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the standard from which time is measured around the world.