Failing to spark the kind of breakthrough programming he was brought in to create, USA Cable President Stephen Chao is leaving the company. He will not be replaced. His units—USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and a handful of start-ups—will be combined into USA Entertainment, reporting to Michael Jackson, former CEO of England's Channel Four Television.
USA Networks Chairman Barry Diller brought in his old Fox cohort, Chao, in 1998 with the mission of branding the cable networks and creating stronger programming. Chao, who ran a development group under Fox Broadcasting, developed hits Cops
and Studs. While Sci Fi has arguably improved on Chao's watch, USA has drifted and can't claim many programming successes.
A Chao associate said the executive wants to get back into developing programming. "Every move he's made lately has taken him further away from making programs, which is what he loves."
USA Entertainment named Adrienne Becker vice president of operations and Michael Bonner vice president of strategic planning. Becker was USA Networks' vice president of corporate communications. Bonner was vice president of business development for Studios USA.