Longtime Sky executive Sophie Turner Laing is stepping down from her position as Managing Director of Content later this year, the 21st Century Fox-controlled company said today. Turner Laing has been with Sky for 11 years and has led the expansion of its portfolio of entertainment channels, with the launch of Sky Atlantic, Sky Living and Sky Arts during her tenure. She also was instrumental in Sky’s partnership with HBO — Sky Atlantic is the home of HBO series, and the pair has a first-run output deal through 2020. In January, they committed to co-developing and producing epic drama series. Turner Laing also has been key to Sky’s overall commitment to spending an annual £600M on original British programming. The timing of her exit — a day after the head of programming of another Rupert Murdoch-owned TV network, Fox’s Kevin Reilly, stepped down — has raised speculation about a possible connection and a transatlantic move for Turner Laing.
She was at Sky during James Murdoch’s tenure, and he now has direct responsibility for Fox Networks Group, and the strategic and operational development of the company’s owned and controlled interests in Sky and Star’s pay-TV services in Europe and Asia. However, in his remarks today, BSkyB Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said, “I am pleased that [Turner Laing] will continue to have a close relationship with Sky in the future.” Rumors have been that she would segue to producing, and I’m hearing that she was simply looking for a change after a long run.
“I have had the most fabulous career at Sky,” Turner Laing said. “As a passionate believer in creative change, it is now someone else’s turn to drive the next phase of growth in content at Sky. I have been hugely privileged and honored to work with such brilliant colleagues across the company.”