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Prisoners firm Keshet poaches BBC Worldwide executive

HatufimKeshet International has appointed a BBC Worldwide distribution exec to become a sales director.

Cynthia Kennedy has joined the global arm of Israel’s Keshet Media Group with immediate effect, reporting to head of distribution and acquisitions Keren Shahar.

She joins a team of sales directors including Nelly Weber-Feld and Kelly Wright and marcom manager Limor Gott-Ronen, who is extending her duties to include sales. Keshet sells series including Prisoners of War (pictured), the Israeli drama on which Showtime’s Homeland is based.

Kennedy joins from BBCWW, where she was senior sales executive, format licensing. She has previously held roles at Zodiak Entertainment (Zodiak Media), Outright Distribution (now part of Warner Bros. International Television Production), ID Distribution and Channel 4 International (both now part of DRG), Parthenon (now Sky Vision) and A+E.

Shahar said of her appointment: “I’ve known Cynthia for many years and I’m delighted she has accepted our offer to join the KI team. Cynthia has excellent relationships with the international broadcast and production community and I have no doubt she will be a great asset to our expanding sales team.”

Kennedy added: “When one of the most innovative broadcasters in the world comes calling, you answer.  Israel is now recognised as a creative hub and a top exporter of formats, and I am very happy that Keshet have asked me to join at such an exciting time in the company’s history. I look forward to working with the KI team and regional offices to bring Keshet’s brands to the widest international audience possible.”

For the BBC’s commercial division BBCWW, Kennedy’s exit is a third in quick succession. It has recently lost sales its Americas coproductions chief Greg Johnson and senior acquisitions executive Jill Kellie to ITV Studios Global Entertainment but did expand its commissioning team with the hires of UKTV’s Julie Swanston and former Channel 4 specialist factual editor Lucy Pilkington.

BBCWW was restructured into regional hubs earlier this year as new CEO Tim Davie undertook his role. Earlier this week, it revealed yearly programme sales topped £300 million (US$450 million) for the first time.