Airey to go as part of Five restructure

Five chief executive Dawn Airey will return to a senior role at the broadcaster's former owner RTL within a matter of months as Desmond outlines plans for Channel Five.

Five chief executive Dawn Airey
Five chief executive Dawn Airey

Yesterday, Media Week revealed that staff at the public service broadcaster would be informed about the future structure of Channel Five this morning at 10am and it is expected Airey's departure will be announced during that meeting.

While full details of the announcement are being kept under wraps until staff have been informed, there are expected to be wide-ranging structural changes, including moves at senior management level.

Airey is understood to be leaving Five in several months for a role at the channel's former owner, European broadcaster RTL Group.

When questioned on the day of the sale (23 July), a spokesman for RTL denied Airey would take a role within the company.

However, RTL Group chief executive Gerhard Zeiler has always held Airey in high regard and is known to have felt she did very well in one of the toughest jobs in TV, managing the necessary restructuring and job cuts at Five as well as the recession and ad market.

Speculation over a move to TalkBack Thames, the RTL-owned production company, has been described as "premature" by those close to the matter, but with the chief executive's role currently vacant it would appear to be a definite option.

This morning's announcement will mark the first concrete proposals for the broadcaster since N&S owner Richard Desmond bought the channel from RTL Group for £103.5m last month.

While Five is expected to retain its own independent sales team, it is understood that commercial staff have already started to speak to media agencies about advertising opportunities spanning Five and Desmond’s print titles, including celebrity magazine OK! and the Daily Star newspaper.

After a period of intense speculation, ownership of Five changed hands on 23 July as N&S owner Richard Desmond agreed to shoulder any regulatory responsibilities.

Dawn Airey CV

2008 Chair and chief executive, Five
Managing director, global content, ITV
Chief executive, Iostar
Managing director, channels and services, BSkyB
Managing director, Sky Networks
Chief executive, Five
Director of programmes, Five
Controller of arts and entertainment, Channel 4
Controller of networked children's and daytime, ITV
Management trainee, Central TV

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