Boss ankles BBC America

Hilary planning to run Magna Global

BBC America prexy-CEO Bill Hilary has resigned to become president of entertainment for Magna Global, the production arm of Interpublic Media.

BBCA has made no decision yet on Hilary’s replacement. The three execs who’ll run the channel in the interim are general manager Kathryn Mitchell, chief financial officer Chris Carr and corporate communications head Jo Petherbridge.

In his new position, Hilary will focus on ramping up the number of TV shows Magna commissions for Interpublic’s advertisers. Magna helped to create the hit TNT movie “Door to Door” and the NBC reality series “The Restaurant.”

Jana Bennett, director of TV for the BBC in London, praised Hilary and his team for helping BBCA grow to 49 million subscribers in eight years.

“At Magna Global, I’ll come up with the creative ideas and then bring in the advertisers, producers, broadcast networks and cable networks,” said Hilary said.

He said he won’t be restricted to family-type programs like “Door to Door,” which Johnson & Johnson sponsored, because Interpublic has a number of clients that will want what he termed “edgy programming.” Three of the clients — Sony, Microsoft and AOL — may fit that bill.

Magna Global chairman-CEO Bill Cella said he wants Hilary to come up with “the full panoply of drama and comedy shows, because our clients are seeking to reach all sorts of different demos.”

Hilary said he plans to go well beyond domestic broadcast and cable in his program development.

“I’ll explore video-on-demand, broadband Web sites, international television and digital media,” he said. “I don’t see any boundaries.”

Magna also will chalk up profits from the aftermarket distribution of any programs it helps to finance for its clients, including such ancillaries as DVD and rerun syndication, he said.

Cella said the two execs who had run Magna Entertainment — Frances Page, head of strategy and business affairs; and Sunta Izzicupo, head of primetime development — now will report to Hilary.

Before joining BBC America as president in 2004, Hilary, a native of Ireland, spent five years as exec VP and general manager of Comedy Central. Previously he was head of the Independent Commissioning Group for BBC TV; before that, he was head of comedy and entertainment for Granada TV.

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