Entertainment

Shakeup at Middle East Broadcaster MBC Group: Sam Barnett Returns as CEO, Marc Antoine d’Halluin Steps Down

In a management shakeup at top Middle East broadcaster MBC Group, CEO Marc Antoine d’Halluin has stepped down. The executive has been replaced by his predecessor, Sam Barnett, who is returning as CEO following his resignation in December 2019 after 17 years with the company.

Marc Antoine d’Halluin (pictured right) is not leaving MBC, however, having now been appointed as an advisor to its board in order “to guide its strategic vision,” a terse MBC statement said.

Since taking the MBC helm, d’Halluin — a veteran TV exec who began his career at Sony Pictures Entertainment, served as CEO of Zodiak Media and had plenty of prior experience in the Middle East — successfully launched the broadcaster’s rebranded Shahid VIP OTT platform which, this year, due to the pandemic, saw its subscriber growth skyrocket. Under his leadership, MBC also ramped up efforts to produce high-end Arabic originals.

However, according to sources, d’Halluin’s allegedly autocratic management style did not win him any popularity points at the Saudi-controlled Dubai-based network, which has 2,800 employees.

During his roughly one-year stint at MBC’s helm, former Hulu exec Johannes Larcher, who had been hired as MBC head of digital operations in early 2019, left to go head HBO Max International. More recently, earlier this month, MBC’s head of communications Mazen Hayek stepped down after 14 years.

The MBC statement noted that Barnett (pictured left), who has been instrumental to MBC becoming a major Middle East player “brings a wealth of experience to reinforce MBC Group’s senior management team.”

In separate news, MBC Group’s board of directors announced it has appointed Majid Al Ibrahim, the brother of MBC chairman Waleed Al Ibrahim, as a board representative.

The MBC statement underlined that the management reshuffle was to keep pace with “the acceleration of opportunities in the digital media and OTT markets and facing the challenge of delivering on the Saudi Kingdom’s Vision 2030 media agenda,” which is the package of economic and social policies designed to free Saudi from dependence on an oil-based economy.




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