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Zai Bennett

director of programmes
Sky UK

Zai Bennett was appointed as Director of Programmes for Sky UK in November 2016 with a brief that includes responsibility for the editorial direction and output of Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic and Sky Arts as well as Sky’s FTA channels. Before this he was Director of Sky Atlantic where his remit included overseeing an enviable slate of US content, including Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Affair, Girls and Veep as well as looking after the channel’s home-grown slate of programming including high profile dramas such as Fortitude and Penny Dreadful as well as his most recent commissions, Tin Star, Guerrilla, The Trip to Spain, The Tunnel and Riviera

Prior to this, he was Controller of BBC Three for three years, and in that time helped the channel overtake Channel 4 for the young adult 16-24yr audience. Under his direction, BBC Three won six Baftas in the three years including Life and Death Row, In The Flesh and The Revolution Will Be Televised. Other highlights include record breaking comedies Bad Education, Cuckoo, People Just Do Nothing, Murder in Successville and Uncle, popular factual hits the Call Centre and Hair as well as landmark multi-genre seasons on Crime and Mental Health. Prior to joining the BBC, Bennett spent 12 years at ITV where he was part of the launch team for ITV2, 3 and 4. As Controller of ITV2 and then Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions he transformed ITV2 with commissions including The Only Way is Essex, Secret Diary of A Call Girl and Celebrity Juice. He also concluded major acquisitions deals for all the channels including the James Bond and Harry Potter franchises.

He was Advisory Chair for the 40th Guardian International Television Festival in 2015 and remains on the executive committee of the Festival.