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Mahon named Channel 4 CEO

Former Shine Group CEO Alex Mahon has been appointed CEO of UK broadcaster Channel 4, succeeding David Abraham.

Alex Mahon

Mahon is currently CEO of Foundry, the London-based special-effects firm behind the visuals in blockbuster movies Interstellar and Gravity, having joined in November 2015.

That followed her departure from Shine in the wake of the company’s huge merger with Endemol and Core Media. Former Sky exec Sophie Turner-Laing was parachuted in to lead the new venture as CEO.

She had been widely tipped to succeed Abraham, who announced he was leaving the commercially funded pubcaster after seven years in March, and C4 confirmed the news this afternoon.

Mahon will join in the autumn, with a precise start date to be confirmed. Abraham will continue in the role until then.

The appointment comes at a time of great change at C4, with the channel’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt announcing her decision to walk away on Friday after withdrawing her own bid to succeed Abraham.

Between them Hunt and Abraham had overseen a revitalisation of the channel in the wake of it cancelling reality juggernaut Big Brother, redesigning the schedule around returnable formats such as First Dates, Gogglebox and The Island, alongside ambitious drama projects such as Indian Summers and AMC coproduction Humans.

But a pledge in the ruling Conservative Party’s manifesto ahead of Thursday’s UK general election to move the channel from its West London base to Birmingham, to help decentralise public sector jobs, prompted Hunt’s rethink.

The network’s head of advertising Jonathan Allan and CEO of Scottish broadcaster STV Rob Woodward had also been linked with the CEO role but Mahon has now been confirmed.

Charles Gurassa, Channel 4’s chair, said: “Alex is an outstanding leader and a highly experienced CEO who has developed and grown major international businesses in both the creative and technology sectors.

“She brings an impressive combination of relevant experience and is brilliantly placed to help steer Channel 4 through the competitive challenges and opportunities ahead.

“She is a great enthusiast for Channel 4 and its unique public service remit and her recent work with government will be valuable in facilitating constructive dialogue with the new administration.”

Mahon added: “Channel 4’s unique remit to innovate and to appeal to young and diverse audiences make it an essential part of British culture.

“There is nowhere in the world like Channel 4 and, in these changing times, its mission is more important than ever. I’m incredibly proud to be joining Channel 4 and bring to it experience both of leading creative organisations at scale and dealing with an environment of constant technological change.”

Mahon joined Shine as MD in 2006 and built the group through mergers and acquisitions into an organisation with 27 production labels in 12 countries and revenue of £700m (US$900m).

Prior to this she had a career in media organisations across Europe, as COO at TalkbackThames, director of commercial development and strategy at FremantleMedia and as a senior strategy executive at RTL Group.

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