Sarah Barnett To Head Up BBC America

SundanceTV general manger Sarah Barnett will take over the position of BBC America president and general manager, AMC Networks said Friday.

Barnett will oversee both BBC America and SundanceTV for an interim period until the SundanceTV position is filled. Barnett will continue to report to Ed Carroll, chief operating officer of AMC Networks. Barnett began her television career at the BBC and BBC America before transitioning to then Sundance Channel in 2005. While there, SundanceTV raised its profile with the addition of original programs such as Top of the Lake, The Honorable Woman (co-produced by the BBC) and Rectify.

Current BBC America general manager Perry Simon will receive an exclusive production deal with BBC Worldwide North America, AMC Networks said, adding that Simon had said earlier he would be leaving at the end of the year. On his watch, BBC America developed and launched as original series the Civil War-era police drama Copper and the current hit Orphan Black

The moves come a month after AMC Networks obtained operational control of BBC America as part of AMC’s $200 million purchase of 49% interest of the network from BBC Worldwide.

“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,” Carroll said in a release. “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.”

BBC Worldwide said Simon (pictured) will develop and produce programs for networks and digital platforms. He will continue to work closely with U.K. independent producers and writers, including those that BBC Worldwide has invested in. He reports into Matt Forde, EVP sales and co-productions, BBC Worldwide North America.

Herb Scannell, president of BBC Worldwide North America, said in a release that "Perry is a creative force and has led BBC America with dedication and distinction. 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.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.