AMC Networks is reaching to its executive bench to fill the top job at BBC America. A month after the company closed a deal to acquire a 49.9% stake in BBC America for $200 million, AMC Networks has named Sundance TV president and general manager Sarah Barnett as president and general manager of BBC America. Barnett made her mark by establishing Sundance as an original programming player with such shows as Rectify, Top Of The Lake, The Honorable Woman. She will start at BBC America, which AMC Networks operates as a joint venture with BBC Worldwide, early next year, overseeing both BBC America and SundanceTV on an interim basis until a successor at SundanceTV is named. She will continue to report to Ed Carroll, Chief Operating Officer of AMC Networks.
Barnett will succeed current BBC America general manager Perry Simon, who will segue to an exclusive production deal with BBC Worldwide North America that includes development commitments from BBC America and AMC Networks. This marks a return to his producing roots for Simon who was previously head of Viacom Prods. It also is consistent with BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie’s comment on the day of the AMC-BBCA announcement that “we are looking at roles within BBC Worldwide” for Simon who said that day that he would depart his BBC America post at the end of the year.
For Barnett, this marks a return to BBC America and the BBC, where she began her career and held various posts in production and marketing before her decade-long run at SundanceTV.
Barnett joined SundanceTV in 2005 as SVP marketing and was named head of the channel in 2009, She launched the network’s scripted strategy in 2010 with the Golden Globe-winning Carlos, and has since overseen an original slate that has included Rectify, Top Of The Lake, The Honorable Woman, The Red Road, Restless, Appropriate Adult, The Returned, and the upcoming One Child, a co-production with the BBC.
“Sarah has had a remarkable tenure guiding SundanceTV through a dramatic evolution, taking the network ad-supported and establishing it as a formidable player in the scripted drama space,” said Carroll. “Sarah’s appetite for creative risk-taking and her strong leadership skills are well suited to this new role and we look forward to her building on BBC America’s successes, as the network continues to establish itself as a showcase for high quality shows that resonate with critics and audiences alike.”
Said Davie, “Sarah has a fantastic track record in the kind of intelligent, creative content that is BBC America’s hallmark. And as a highly respected, collaborative team leader I have every confidence she will deliver success for both joint venture partners.”
During the four years at the helm of BBC America, Simon introduced the channel’s first original dramas: Copper, from Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, and breakout Orphan Black. Under Simon’s watch, ratings grew 47% on the strength of such imports as Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Luther and The Hour.
“Perry is a creative force and has led BBC America with dedication and distinction,” said Herb Scannell, President BBC Worldwide North America. “His deep knowledge of development, production, scheduling and marketing – along with his hallmark determination and thoughtfulness – have been key in growing the channel and reaching new audiences.”