Media Lifeline: Nick Bampton

The former VBS supremo is one of many successful graduates from Thames TV's media school.

1990: Nick Bampton becomes a winner in the lottery of TV sales life when he's invited by senior executive Nick Milligan to become a junior sales assistant at Thames TV. He joins a pantheon of airtime gods that has included at one time or another David Mansfield, Peter Shea, Mark White, Kelly Williams and Linda Smith. In honour of his elevation into this most exalted of circles, he is given a new name befitting of his status - "Bammo" is born.

March 1997: Thames, however, becomes a bit of a backwater when it loses its ITV franchise. So it's no surprise when Milligan leaves to become the sales director of a nascent Channel 5. Nor is it a shock when acolytes including Bampton, White and Williams follow him.

August 2001: In May 2001, Viacom had poached Paul Curtis (Bampton's boss at Channel 5's then digital offshoot, Channel 5 Interactive) to head its new sales division, Viacom Brand Solutions. This had been created to bring sales of the Viacom-owned channels (the likes of MTV had previously been sold by Sky Media) in-house. In turn, Curtis poaches Bampton to be his sales director.

December 2004: And when Milligan, who'd jumped ship to become the Sky Media boss in February, poaches Curtis, Bampton is (almost) immediately handed the top job. His tenure is marked by stability and prosperity, with VBS regularly winning top sales team awards. His greatest misfortune during this period is being snapped by a Haymarket photographer in front of a "Camden Lock" sign, with his head obscuring an unfortunate combination of letters.

January 2010: But, once more, Bampton's fate is effectively dictated by Milligan. In November 2009, Sky Media had won representation of Viacom's channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. The VBS staff trudge off in the snow to Sky minus Bampton.

Fast forward: June 2010 And yet, what goes around comes around - and following Milligan's decision to join ITV as deputy to the new chief executive, Dawn Airey, Bampton is invited to become the head honcho at Sky Media. He offers his second-in-command slot to Andy Barnes. This is an unprecedented move given Barnes' lack of Thames heritage - but Barnes is almost certainly available following Five's shock merger with Channel 4.

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