Airey leaving BSkyB

Executive joining Iostar as CEO

BSkyB topper Dawn Airey will exit the U.K. satcaster in spring to become CEO of new rights and distribution combo Iostar.

Monday’s announcement follows weeks of speculation concerning the future of one of Blighty’s most high-profile TV execs.

Airey is managing director of channels and services, overseeing BSkyB’s nonsports channels including Sky News, Sky One, Sky Movies and Artsworld plus the fledgling broadband service.

“Dawn has made a significant contribution to Sky’s appeal to millions of customers,” BSkyB chief exec James Murdoch said in a statement. “She has been a valued colleague and a trusted friend.”

Her decision to leave after four years has triggered an executive reshuffle. Chief operating officer Mike Darcey will assume responsibility for BSkyB’s ad sales, broadband Internet portal, joint ventures, channel distribution and commercial relationships with third-party channels.

Vic Wakeling, managing director of Sky Sports, will add Sky News to his role.

No decision has been made on who will manage the entertainment channels.

Airey, a former CEO of terrestrial broadcaster Five, was considered a contender to run ITV before the appointment of Michael Grade and BSkyB’s acquisition of an 18% stake in the terrestrial broadcaster.

Iostar, incorporated last month, wanted a high-profile executive to run its interests, which will range from factual and entertainment to films, management and international distribution. Its directors include ex-Hallmark exec Mark Grenside.