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NEW YORK — BBC exec Bill Hilary has been named to the newly created position of general manager and exec VP, Comedy Central, prompting top programming exec Eileen Katz to ankle the comedy cabler.

“She was a contender for the job, and she opted to leave when she did not get it,” said Larry Divney, Comedy Central’s president and CEO. Katz, who was part of the team that brought “South Park” to the network, was hired in 1995 by Divney’s predecessor, Doug Herzog. She was not immediately available for comment.

In his new post, Hilary — who will join Comedy Central on Jan. 17, reporting to Divney — will oversee all programming, marketing and on-air promotions. He will also be in charge of audience research, international sales and scheduling. As part of the reorganization, the on-air programming department and the marketing team, which had previously reported to Divney, will report to Hilary.

Divney said the network needed a general manager to “ensure a unified creative voice for the network’s programming and creative efforts.” Divney replaced Herzog, who left Comedy Central at the end of last year to become president of the Fox Entertainment Group. A longtime sales exec, Divney is more focused on new business opportunities than on overseeing programming.

“I’m not interested in running the network as much as growing the network,” Divney said. “I want to take the network up to the next level, which means I have to be focused on new business opportunities.”

Divney looked to Hilary for his strong original comedy development background as well as his marketing experience. Most recently, Hilary was head of the BBC’s Independent Commissioning Group, the company’s entertainment and comedy division, where he oversaw all original programming and marketing. In addition to his work at the BBC, Hilary has held positions at Granada Television, Channel 4 and Wall to Wall Prods.

Divney has said he will leave it to Hilary to decide if he wants to replace Katz. Before Hilary arrives, Divney will fill in for Katz. “I’ll baby-sit Eileen’s position until Bill comes in,” Divney said.