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Katz replaces Hunt at C4

UK broadcaster Channel 4 has named the editor of BBC2’s Newsnight as its new director of programmes, replacing the outgoing Jay Hunt.

Ian Katz

Ian Katz, former deputy editor of UK newspaper The Guardian, has been appointed as the broadcaster’s programming chief after a protracted search that began when Hunt resigned as chief creative officer in June.

A host of names from the broadcast industry, including former Sky director of entertainment channels Stuart Murphy and the satcaster’s current content chief Zai Bennett, had been linked with the post.

Ralph Lee, who has risen up the factual ranks at the commercially funded public broadcaster to become deputy chief creative officer, had been seen as favourite to take over Hunt’s responsibilities.

He has been interim chief creative officer since Hunt left in September and has agreed to continue in the position until Katz’s arrival in January. Bar a brief stint at Channel 5 he has been with Channel 4 since 2002 but now seems certain to depart.

Hunt stepped down from the broadcaster after being overlooked for the CEO position following David Abraham’s resignation in March. Former Shine chief Alex Mahon was named as Abraham’s replacement, while Hunt has since resurfaced as creative director of Europe in tech giant Apple’s Worldwide Video division.

C4 CEO Mahon said: “Ian is an inspirational leader who assiduously builds and nurtures talented and empowered teams. He has fantastic instincts and intelligence, huge editorial strength and is a proven creative and digital innovator who lives and breathes the Channel 4 values.”

Katz added: “I’m impossibly excited to be joining a broadcaster whose unique combination of innovation, risk-taking and elan I have admired for decades as a viewer – and more recently as a frequently envious rival.

“Channel 4’s deeply held values and relentlessly challenging sensibility have never been more important or relevant, and I feel incredibly privileged to play a part in shaping the next stage of its remarkable journey.”

Katz, an experienced journalist who has been editing BBC2’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight since 2013, represents something of a left-field choice in that he has no previous commissioning, scheduling or programming experience.

He developed and launched The Guardian’s first website in 1997 and was central to its digital development over the following 15 years. In a five-year stint as deputy editor, he oversaw the paper’s groundbreaking Wikileaks and phone-hacking investigations.

At Newsnight he has overseen a high-profile talent recruitment process that has included the poaching of political journalist Laura Kuenssberg from ITV and Chris Cook from the Financial Times.

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