MEDIA: Sky News moves top staff

Sky News has reshuffled senior producers as part of a bid to up its quotient of breaking news stories.

Chris Birkett, formerly producer of Live at Five, has moved to oversee Sky News Today, the 'hard news' programme launched on the network this week.

The new strand runs from 10am to 1pm, including live business updates from the City at 11.40am and 12.40pm. The programme will have what Sky calls a 'flexible format', allowing it to produce longer analytical pieces as well as more traditional news reports. Nick Pollard, head of Sky News, said: 'The new morning show will extend our analysis of the big news stories.'

Martin Lawson moves from being in charge of the network's 10am to 1pm output, to be executive producer for the afternoon coverage, which comprises Sky News from 1pm to 5pm. Mark Calvert has returned from a six-month secondment as one of the launch editors of Channel 4 breakfast show RI:SE and will oversee Live at Five.

Tim Cunningham has been confirmed as executive producer of Sunrise, which runs from 6am to 10am, after a period standing in for Calvert.

Presenters of the various programmes have also been shifted around, with Julie Etchingham moving from Sunrise to anchor Sky News Today along with Martin Stanford.

Mark Longhurst joins Kay Burley to host the afternoon output. Anna Botting moves to co-present the three-hour Live at Five with Jeremy Thompson. Sunrise is presented by Simon McCoy.

Four journalists - Bob Friend, Vivien Creegor, Allan King and Juliette Foster - will present Sky News from 8pm, which includes main bulletins at 9pm and 10pm.

The changes at Sky News were pushed through before Channel 5 boss Dawn Airey announced her move to become MD of Sky Networks, in charge of everything except sport, from January. The network plans to launch several entertainment channels in 2003, including music channels to rival MTV and Kerrang!

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