New York -- USA Networks Inc. last week appointed broadcast
veteran Barry Baker as president and chief operating officer -- newly created positions
through which he will manage day-to-day operations and try to develop synergies between
the company's disparate units.
Baker, 46, will oversee all of USA's operating
divisions, and he will report to Barry Diller, its chairman and CEO. Baker may also wind
up serving on the boards of USA and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch Inc.
One of Baker's jobs will undoubtedly be converting the
company's 16 TV stations and Home Shopping Network affiliates that USA owns into
independent, local-oriented stations.
Baker was president and CEO of Baltimore-based Sinclair
Communications Inc., where he oversaw 64 TV stations and 54 radio stations.
Hiring a No. 2 man to focus on operations should free
Diller up to devote more time to strategic and other long-range issues, such as managing
USA's pending deal to merge with Lycos Inc., tying in the companies' home
shopping and electronic-commerce businesses.
"The execution of our agenda demands leadership, and
having Barry Baker take responsibility for our operations will give us the best chance
that I know of to make the complex parts of this company work together," Diller said
in a prepared statement.
Baker has some cable background: He began his career in
1975 as marketing director of Upstate Cablevision in New York state.
In his statement, Baker said, "USA [Networks] is that
unique, entrepreneurial communications company, which has the management and businesses in
place to actually execute the converging e-commerce, television and Internet model that
others only speak of."
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