Zai Bennett to leave BBC3 for Sky Atlantic

BBC3 controller Zai Bennett (pictured) is leaving the soon-to-close UK network to become the director of pay-TV network Sky Atlantic, as of August.
April 15, 2014

BBC3 controller Zai Bennett (pictured) is leaving the soon-to-close UK network to become the director of BSkyB-owned Sky Atlantic, as of August.

The move follows the UK pubcaster’s decision to axe the youth-skewing BBC3 and relaunch it as an online-only brand as part of the BBC Trust’s cost savings plan.

Bennett joined BBC3 in 2011 from ITV, where he spent 12 years and was part of the team that launched ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4. During his tenure at BBC3, he oversaw the network’s factual slate, which has included Call Centre; Hair; Crime and Punishment; and Mental Health.

Sky recently renewed a partnership with HBO to continue airing the U.S. pay-TV network’s programming, including scripted hits Game of Thrones, Girls and True Detective exclusively in the UK until 2020. The two networks will also jointly develop and produce new drama series.

Upcoming programming includes the drama series Penny Dreadful, a coproduction with Showtime, and a slate of documentary feature films. Sky Atlantic has previously aired docs including The Act of Killing, The Crash Reel, Manhunt and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

“[Sky's] enviable partnership with HBO together with its commissioning strategy gives me one of the best jobs in the industry,” Bennett said in a statement. “Sky’s ambition and appetite to do things differently is exactly the creative challenge I’m looking for.”

Bennett will report to Sky’s director of entertainment channels Stuart Murphy.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.