USAI reorganizes operation

Just two days after the resignation of COO Barry Baker, USA Networks Inc. (USAI) launched a reorganization of its operations, aiming in part to take its Internet unit public.

USAI is dividing into three units: USA Entertainment, comprising USA Network, Sci-Fi Channel, Studios USA and USAI's TV station; USA Electronic Retailing, primarily Home Shopping Network; and USA Information Systems, essentially Ticketmaster plus all of USAI's Internet ventures.

According to USAI, the reorganization is only accidentally coincident with the resignation of Baker, who joined the company less that 18 months ago. Baker said his move is unrelated to Seagram's agreement to sell out to Vivendi.

Baker said he simply wanted to be a CEO again. "I want to run my own store again. I have a lot more fun." He dismissed speculation that he is leaving because of clashes with USAI Chairman Barry Diller. "He's been great. He's always given me respect. I don't have any issue with Barry."

Baker was hired by Diller in February 1999 to be COO. He had been CEO-designate at TV station owner Sinclair Broadcasting, which had acquired Baker's River City Broadcasting in 1989.-J.M.H.