Alliance topper exits

MacMillan to become executive chairman

MONTREAL — Alliance Atlantis Communications chairman-CEO Michael MacMillan is ankling to become executive chairman, focusing on the company’s long-term future.

Chief operating officer Phyllis Yaffe is being upped to CEO and will be in charge of day-to-day operations at the Toronto-based film and TV company.

“It means I can spend more time on planning, and that’s already a big priority for me,” said MacMillan.

He would not say where he saw Alliance Atlantis headed in the years to come, noting he didn’t want to reveal too much to his competitors.

“We think we have the best broadcast business in Canada, and we want to make sure we capitalize on the opportunities,” said MacMillan.

Yaffe’s promotion confirms that Alliance Atlantis is now focused almost exclusively on its broadcast business — she was head of the broadcasting division before becoming COO. Yaffe rose to prominence as prexy of specialty channel Showcase Television.

Since exiting the film and TV production biz two years ago, Alliance Atlantis has increasingly devoted its attention to its Canadian specialty channels. MacMillan said the company is looking at opportunities in specialty TV area, including starting new channels and revamping old ones.

He said it is unlikely the company will try to start up or buy conventional TV channels.

The one division of Alliance Atlantis that is outside the TV area is film distribution. MacMillan said the film distribution division — a separate income trust — is “not a core business of ours. It is a separate public company controlled by us, and whether we hold on to that core stake is going to be a financial decision as opposed to a strategic decision.”

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