Baker tapped for ailing entertainment channel
LONDON — Satcaster BSkyB has ousted Sara Ramsden as head of the struggling Sky One entertainment channel and installed James Baker.
The news surprised many in Blighty’s close-knit TV community as Ramsden, who was poached from Channel 4 by Sky Networks managing director Dawn Airey, had barely been in the job 10 months.
Airey wants to move the channel more upmarket. But Ramsden, who abruptly quit Friday, failed to change the schedule from its old formula of U.S. acquisitions such as dating show “Mr. Personality” and lowbrow domestic fare like “When Sex Goes Wrong.”
In the first three weeks of September, Sky One suffered its lowest weekly audience share for nine years, falling to 2.4% from 3.9% over the same period last year, when Kate Marsh was in charge.
The web has been losing ground to digital rivals E4 and ITV2. It also faces new competition from Fox U.K.’s FX, which will target men when it hits the airwaves in January, and an ad-funded non-branded Disney channel, due to bow on digital terrestrial platform Freeview in December.
Baker, a seasoned BSkyB exec, will have his work cut out as there was little competition to Sky One when he was appointed programming chief in 1996 before being promoted to general manager in 1998.
During his tenure at Sky One, he worked with then managing director of Sky Networks Elisabeth Murdoch to expand original programming. He introduced popular original programs including the “Uncovered” franchise and soccer soap “Dream Team.”
He relinquished his position in early 2000, when ITV’s David Bergg was appointed general manager, but he continued to be involved in the channel as head of content and creative affairs.