Tuesday (4 October) was his first day with the broadcaster and it is understood that, rather than having fixed days, he will work at Channel 4 when he is needed.
Digby left ITV along with five of his senior lieutenants as part of a senior level restructure instituted by Fru Hazlitt, ITV's managing director of commercial and online, in January.
Since then, he has picked up a number of high-profile consultancies. Global Radio, whose chairman is former ITV chief executive Charles Allen, gave Digby the nod first.
He was then sought by News International's Paul Hayes, for help on his recently revealed sales restructure, and then former Mindshare chief executive Simon Rees, in his role as managing director of cinema sales house DCM.
Chris Hayward, group trading director at ZenithOptimedia, said it "makes sense" for Allan to take advantage of Digby’s experience in TV sales.
Hayward said: "Initially it was a bit of a surprise, but from Jonathan Allan and Channel 4's point of view, it makes sense.
"Digby has the experience and if Jonathan wants to do something now rather than wait for 2012 before he takes action, then it would be completely compatible to take someone like Gary on.
"He has run a very effective trading team in the past, but the degree to which he will affect the trading season is impossible to say."
The idea of the move making "sense" was reiterated by Aegis Media's Steve Platt. Platt, who recently stepped back from his role as head of trading at Aegis Media to become a consultant for the buying powerhouse, said Digby’s role with Channel 4 would "suit them both in the short term".
There has been much change in TV over the past year: Kelly Williams was replaced by former VBS managing director Nick Bampton at Channel 5; Ids closed and its channels were folded into Channel 4 and Sky Media; the departures of Digby et al led to roles for Williams (and MySpace sales chief Simon Daglish) at ITV; and all before Channel 4's long-serving ad chief Andy Barnes announced his retirement and was replaced by Allan (known to his friends as JA).
Although the most pressing issue for Channel 4 will be to avoid the mauling it received during trading season last year, sources suggest Digby's role will include looking at all aspects of the Channel 4 business. Channel 4 denies this and insists Digby is only employed as a trading consultant.
Allan is looking for a permanent trading head, after Mick Perry, the former Universal McCann vice-chairman, stepped down from his position as head of airtime sales last week. Perry's tenure had always had a question mark over it, with many agencies execs apparently told from the start it was not a permanent position.
Some executives have privately expressed concerns about the decision to bring Digby in. One senior media buyer, who asked not to be named, said the appointment of someone from the old guard of TV trading could be seen as a "backward step" and questioned whether Digby was the right person to advise on "people and structure" if that is what he has been asked to do.
"It's like bringing in a footballer and asking him to play cricket," the buyer said.
However, Chris Locke, group trading director at Publicis Groupe media agency StarcomMediaVest, completely disagrees and thinks Allan should use Digby's experience to inform any changes he makes.
Locke said: "Gary's a great person to have on your shoulder, he's seen it and done it all. Jonathan Allan's a smart guy, but he hasn’t run a sales team.
"Gary will be able to look at all bits of the business, and whether Channel 4 has the right structure from the trading team to the daily delivery, the client team and the digital team, and see how joined up the elements are."
Most agency buyers and planners agree. Andrew Stephens, partner at independent media agency Goodstuff, said: "It is practical for JA to have Gary there, particularly as the crucial 2012 trading season is upon us – especially on the back of what I don't believe has been a brilliant year for Channel 4.
"Getting the 2012 trading foundations in place will give JA a really good platform for what he wants to do. Gary should be in a strong position to help him in the last quarter and then JA can look to improve some of the things, such as innovation, that Channel 4 has arguably lost ground to ITV in recent times."
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