HBO, the Time Warner-owned premium cable network, on Wednesday named Sue Naegle as president of entertainment, entrusting her to shepherd a new generation of programmes to replace defining hits like the multi-award-winning The Sopranos and Sex and the City.

Ms Naegle, an agent at the United Talent Agency, will replace Carolyn Strauss, a long-time HBO executive who departed last month.

During her career at UTA, Ms Naegle was responsible for packaging the HBO series Six Feet Under, as well as The Bernie Mac Show, Men in Trees and Swingtown.

“We just think it’s a perfect fit,” said Richard Plepler, co-president of HBO.

Ms Naegle is joining HBO at a sensitive time. The subscription-based network last year reported record financial results.

However, recent failures, including John From Cincinnati and Lucky Louie have tarnished its brand at a time when CBS’s Showtime – although a distant rival – is beginning to gain momentum.

In a sign of concern about the direction of its programming, HBO last month took the unusual step of cancelling a new series, 12 Miles of Bad Road, after it had already spent millions of dollars on production.

Time Warner, based in New York, fell 30 cents, or 2 per cent, to $14.43 in New York Stock Exchange trading. The shares have declined 13 per cent this year.

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