BSkyB managing director of content Sophie Turner Laing steps down - Telegraph
Executive board member and architect of Sky Atlantic departs after seven years of expansion with drama such as 24 and Game of Thrones

BSkyB’s managing director of content, Sophie Turner Laing, who played a key role expanding its pay-TV package beyond films and sport into quality television drama such as Game of Thrones, will step down in autumn, it was announced on Friday.

Ms Turner Laing joined BSkyB in 2003 from the BBC and was put in charge of all of its channels, except Sky Sports, in 2007.

In her seven years in charge of BSkyB’s entertainment, movies and news channels, Ms Turner Laing has overseen a major expansion in its investment in original homegrown and imported programming. This year the company plans to spend £600m on British commissions.

In an email to colleagues on Friday, seen by The Telegraph, she said she would leave the company with “very mixed emotions” but it was “time for someone with a new vision to take up the reins”.

Ms Turner Laing said: “I certainly know that I leave Sky a more fun, creative and kinder company than the one I joined in March 2003.

“I have worked consistently since I was 18 and thought, at the grand old age of 53, that I better get my act together if I want to get some of my passion projects off the ground - less talking, more making them happen.

“I will stay in the creative world - hopefully closely connected to Sky - and am also keen to continue supporting and championing the diversity agenda.”

She led the launch of Sky Atlantic, a channel launched as a home for premium US drama from HBO. The transatlantic relationship between the two broadcasters has since become closer and the pair are now involved in several co-productions.

The success of Sky Atlantic and pressure on Sky Sports from BT has increasingly led BSkyB to emphasise exclusive drama in how it markets its service and invests in content. It is currently advertising based its exclusive deal for ITV’s new premium drama channel, ITV Encore, which is modelled on Sky Atlantic and will go on air in June and is due to debut the second series of the acclaimed crime drama Broadchurch.

Ms Turner Laing said of Sky Atlantic that it was “amazing what a chance lunch with Charles Schreger at HBO will kick off and start a global trend”.

Jeremy Darroch, BSkyB’s chief executive, who is currently leading a multibillion-pound bid to take over Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, said their had been a “step change in the scale and ambition of our entertainment offering” under Ms Turner Laing.

He said: "I’m confident that the strong foundations that Sophie has put in place, together with the strong team here at Sky, will enable us to take the business to even greater heights in the future.”