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TLC's Bennett Goes Back to the BBC

Discovery Networks U.S. has lost another network chief, as The Learning Channel executive vice president and general manager Jana Bennett will return to the British Broadcasting Corp., officials said last week.

Bennett, who spent 20 years at the BBC before coming to TLC, has been named director of BBC Television. A U.S. native, Bennett will return to London in April to assume her new post.

She succeeds Mark Thompson, who left to become head of Great Britain's Channel 4.

During the past year, several network heads have exited Discovery, including Mike Quattrone, who had been general manager of Discovery Channel; his wife Kathy Quattrone, who left as general manager of Discovery Health Channel; Charley Humbard, who served as general manager of Discovery's digi-nets; and now Bennett.

Discovery has started a search for Bennett's replacement, a company spokeswoman said.

In her next job, former BBC director of production Bennett will be responsible for BBC1, BBC2, BBC4, BBC Choice and the UKTV joint-venture channels. She will also oversee content for international outlets BBC America, BBC Canada and BBC Prime.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for the BBC, with the reinvigoration of BBC1 and BBC2, the launch of the new channels, and the challenge to keep raising the creative benchmark," Bennett said in a prepared statement.

Bennett left the BBC in August 1999 to join TLC, part of Discovery Communications Inc.'s domestic cable stable. While at the BBC, she had worked with Discovery on such co-productions as Walking With Dinosaurs
and Intimate Universe: The Human Body,
which appeared on Discovery Channel and TLC, respectively. Dinosaurs
remains Discovery's highest-rated show, averaging an 8.0 household rating when it debuted in April 2000.

During her more than two years at TLC, Bennett created and launched the "Life Unscripted" branding campaign, and was behind such successful series as Junkyard Wars
and Trading Spaces.
TLC, which was acquired by DCI in 1991, has made strides on the distribution and ratings fronts during the past few years. The network is now in 83.3 million homes, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Last year, TLC posted an average 0.9 primetime rating, flat compared with 2000, and a 0.5 total-day average, a 25 percent gain from the prior year's 0.4.