Given the tough fight ahead, 2006 is not the best of times for BSkyB to lose its highly respected chief operating officer, Richard Freudenstein.
BSkyB, the News-Corporation controlled UK satellite broadcaster, this month gained its eight-millionth subscriber - thereby hitting its widely trumpeted target for 2005 with just twelve days to go. The figure equates to nearly one UK household in three.
Crows ceo James Murdoch: " Sky is achieving strong growth. We are especially well placed to broaden Sky's appeal as entertainment and communications come together."
Over the next five years, the satellite monopoly aims to increase its subscriber base to ten million, although it is likely to have a far tougher fight on its hands.
In the half-decade ahead, Sky will confront more serious competition than it has faced in its lifetime - not least the soon-to-be-merged cable duopoly NTL and Telewest, plus the new TV-via-internet service to be launched next year by telecoms titan BT [WAMN: 28-Oct-05].
Another factor is the rise and rise of Freeview, the free-to-air broadcast digital service sponsored by the BBC and Crown Castle Communications.
It emerged this weekend that Freudenstein will quit the company next summer and, according to the Financial Times, his decision has caused corporate shockwaves in the clan Murdoch bunker.
Not only is the defector seen as the most likely successor to James Murdoch, should the latter be shunted to a more senior role at NewsCorp, Freudenstein, has played a major role in all the company's key decisions, including sporting rights and development of high-definition television.
Freudenstein, an Australian, will return down under with his family for undisclosed reasons. In 2003 he was widely regarded as frontrunner for the chief executive's role but was overtaken by James Murdoch's genetic springboard.
Data sourced from Telegraph.co.uk and BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff