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Chao out at USA

Unable to spark the kind of breakthough programming he was brought in to create, USA Cable President Stephen Chao is leaving the company.

He will not be replaced. Chao's units - USA Network, Sci-Fi Channel and a handful of startups - will now be combined into USA Entertainmet, reporting the Michael Jackson, former CEO of England's Channel Four Television.

USA Networks Chairman Barry Diller brought in his old Fox cohort, Chao, in 1998 with the mission of branding the cable networks and creating stronger programming. Chao, who ran a devlopment group under Fox Broadcasting, developed hits Cops and Studs. While Sci-Fi has arguably improved on Chao's watch, USA has drifted and can't claim many programming successes.

A Chao associate said the executive wants to get back into developing programming. "Every move he's made lately has taken him further away of making programs, which is what he loves."

USA Entertainment named Adrienne Becker vice president of operations and Michael Bonner vice president of strategic planning. Becker is USA Networks' vice president of corporate communications. Bonner was vice president of business development for Studios USA.
- John M. Higgins