Xavier Couture, who was plucked in dramatic circumstances in April from TF1 to head Canal Plus, has unveiled a management team that boasts only modest changes, but shorter lines of communication.
Despite Couture's TF1 background, there are no appointments from other broadcasters and most new faces come from within the Vivendi Universal group. On Canal Plus' internal TV network he is reported to have said: "I do not want to overturn the organisation of the group."
But he outlined a shift from an organisation based on business sectors to one that runs on geographical lines. "The organisation will have shorter operational links. Structures will be short, rapid and efficient," said Couture.
Significantly there were no appointments concerning Spain, where Canal Plus is merging its interests in Canal Plus Spain with former rival Via Digital and will hold only a 21% stake in the new pay-TV operator, nor in Italy. The group is expected shortly to outline details of its sale of its Italian outfit Telepiu to News Corp. Canal Plus spokesmen offered "no comment" when quizzed by Screendaily on reports that the disposal is imminent.
Marc-Andre Feffer remains as group number two (deputy chairman of the executive board and general counsel), while Jean-Laurent Nabet, a recently announced appointment to the executive board from Vivendi Universal, is named chief operating officer.
Canal Plus stalwart Michel Denisot, whose films and sports background is close to Couture's, becomes executive vice president reporting directly to Couture. Dominique Fagot, who currently heads Canal Plus' Media Overseas, additionally takes on Benelux, Poland and the Nordic region as executive vice president. Christian Snachez is drafted in from Vivendi Universal Publishing as head of Human Resources, while Eric Pradon joins from Vivendi Environment as executive vice president, finance. Martine Esquirou, a former Les Echos journalist who only joined Vivendi Universal in January, becomes executive vice president of communications replacing Sylvie Rugierrez, who had recently announced her departure. Sophie Barluet, takes on the political liaison job of executive vice president, external affairs.
Subsidiaries reporting directly to Couture and Nabet see Francois Carayol continue as chairman and chief executive of Canal Plus Technologies and Claudine Ripert remain unchanged as executive vice president of strategy and development. Bibiane Godfroid, who previously headed the TV subsidiaries division, will leave. A Belgian national, she will remain chairman of Canal Plus Benelux until a replacement is found.
Within the French channel operation the newly elevated Dominique Farrugia has promoted Virginie Calmels as executive vice president of Canal Plus SA and promoted Arielle Saracco as its director of programming.