BBC Taps Ashendorf For U.S. Distribution Role

Sandy Ashendorf, a former MTV Networks executive, has been appointed executive vice president of network distribution for BBC Worldwide America, overseeing affiliate sales and marketing in the U.S. market.

Reporting to new BBC Worldwide America COO Ann Sarnoff, Ashendorf will oversee U.S. distribution activities for channels and assets including BBC America in standard and high definition, video on demand and BBC World News.

She takes over from Kristina Song, a former Time Warner Cable executive who was hired as a senior vice president a year ago.

Discovery Communications -- which today named Meg Lowe, formerly of MTV Networks, as EVP and head of domestic distribution -- had run BBC America's sales and affiliate activity from launch but gradually BBC Worldwide America has been assuming more that role internally, as it did earlier with advertising sales. A BBC Worldwide America spokesman said Discovery is still working "hand in glove" with BBCWA on distribution services but that Ashendorf's hiring is another step toward more direct relationships with affiliates. The BBC remains an important content partner with Discovery, most recently co-producing the nature series Life.

Sarnoff (who also is a former MTVN executive) said in a release: "Sandy has an impressive track record and wide experience in affiliate sales and is a great addition to our senior management. She and I have worked together and I'm delighted to be reunited with her. Kristina has done a fantastic job in establishing our affiliate sales business, and we are grateful to her. When she told us she wanted to take a complete break from the industry Sandy was the natural successor. She will now build on these impressive foundations to further grow our channel footprint in this market."

Ashendorf said in the release: "The BBC is a tremendous brand and I am excited to help it grow in the U.S. I'm also looking forward to working with Ann, [president] Herb [Scannell] and the rest of the team. By partnering with our distributors to determine how the BBC can best meet their needs and objectives, I think we can really deliver the company's vision for the future."

Ashendorf had been consulting for media organizations, including BBC America. Previously, she spent more than 17 years at MTV Networks, ultimately becoming EVP of affiliate sales and marketing, and managing the sales groups responsible for distribution across satellite, telco and wireless. She was also responsible for legal and strategic issues relating to distribution.

Before that Ashendorf was a corporate associate with the law firm of Rubin Baum Levin Constant & Friedman