Jack Matthews has been named new chief executive at the Premium Movie Partnership (PMP), owner and operator of movie channel Showtime, Australia's most popular pay-TV channel and the biggest supporter of Australian features in the sector.

The role means Matthews represents joint owners 20th Century Fox, Columbia TriStar, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Liberty Media.

The American-born former chief executive of New Zealand telecommunications/ entertainment company Telstra Saturn starts on May 13 but will not officially take over until Bob Donoghue's retirement in late June.

His responsibilities include Encore, the channel that runs library titles. Matthews is joining PMP at a time when the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission is considering whether to allow a fundamental restructure of pay TV. Encore and Showtime are now carried on Austar and Foxtel but, under a proposal agreed between Foxtel and third player Optus, all three pay TV platforms will start to carry these channels. On the other hand, however, dominant player Foxtel will start running the Movie Network channels jointly owned by the other US studios and Village Roadshow, giving PMP it's first real competition.

PMP has spent $13.5m (A$25m) in the past seven years on more than 55 films. Not included are the 30 or so acquired at- or near completion and the 175 classic Australian films purchased.

"One of the reasons this channel has been successful is because of its commitment to the Australian industry, not only to new Australian production but also to old Australian features," said board member Jack Ford.