Barnes to head Five digital channels

BSkyB exec replaces Thorogood at Five Life, Five US

LONDON — Struggling British web, Five, wholly owned by pan-European giant RTL, has once again shuffled its senior programming team.

Its head of digital channels, Nick Thorogood, who joined last fall, is being shunted sideways and is being replaced by BSkyB program topper Hannah Barnes.

Barnes, managing editor at Sky One, is the outfit’s new director of programming for digital upstarts, Five Life and Five US.

The weblets were launched last October long after rival U.K. webs had established their own multi-channel strategy.

Thorogood is being redeployed as part of the channel’s commissioning team.

The move follows the departure of program topper Dan Chambers last year.

There have been rumors that Five’s CEO Jane Lighting may be forced to step down.

Chambers was replaced by U.K. multi-channel veteran Lisa Opie, who has a wider brief than Chambers enjoyed.

There has been speculation — always denied by Five, which celebrates its 10th birthday next month — that Opie is being lined up to succeed Lighting.

RTL has always said that it wants to be either first or second in all the European TV markets it operates in.

Five, however, trails all of its U.K. terrestrial rivals.

So far this year its all-hour audience share is 4.8% compared with 5.6% a year ago.

Its nearest rival, BBC2, gets 8.6%.

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