NEW YORK — Veteran USA Networks exec Bonnie Hammer has been promoted to the newly created position of exec VP/general manager of Sci-Fi Channel.

The creation of a G.M. position marks USA Networks’ increasing focus on Sci-Fi as an independent network.

“What they’re trying to do is to make Sci-Fi as autonomous as it can be, as opposed to the stepchild of USA Network.” Hammer said. “The best way to do that is to have one person accountable for the channel who can lobby for it and take it to the next level.”

Hammer, who was most recently senior VP of Sci-Fi Channel programming and USA Original Prods., has been responsible for programming and scheduling for Sci-Fi, as well as overseeing development of original programs, such as the recent special “Curse of the Blair Witch.”

She is also credited with turning USA’s Monday-night “World Wrestling Federation” series into a Nielsen powerhouse. As G.M., Hammer will oversee programming, marketing, ad sales and licensing for Sci-Fi.

“Under Bonnie’s recent leadership, Sci-Fi has taken giant steps forward in realizing its full potential. She’s made tremendous improvements in the channel’s programming and scheduling, and generated immediate ratings success,” said Stephen Chao, president of programming and marketing, USA Networks, to whom Hammer will continue to report.

While there are no plans to fill Hammer’s former post, USA Networks will hire an L.A.-based exec to develop original programming just for Sci-Fi, according to Hammer.

Since joining USA Networks in 1989, Hammer has been responsible for all aspects of USA Networks’ programming, including the development, production and supervision of original fiction, reality-based series and specials.

She is spearheading the development and production of Steven Spielberg’s 20-hour miniseries “Taken” and the epic miniseries “Frank Herbert’s Dune.”

Before USA, Hammer was a programming exec at Lifetime.