Zai Bennett named as new BBC Three controller

BBC ThreeIt’s been announced that Zai Bennett is to be the new controller of BBC Three following Danny Cohen’s departure to BBC One. Bennett is currently the Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions at ITV and former controller of ITV2.



BBC Three Jana Bennett, Director BBC Vision, today (16.12.10) named Zai Bennett as the new Controller of BBC Three.


“Zai is one of the most energetic and creative leaders working in television today. He brings with him a real connection with the audience, a deep understanding of the digital landscape and first-hand experience of running channels. His experience in developing original scripted drama and comedy, along with his fantastic relationship with presenters and performers, makes Zai perfect for this role.” – Jana Bennett


Bennett joins from ITV, where he is currently Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, and his start date will be confirmed shortly. In his current role, Zai is the creative leader responsible for all editorial content on ITV’s digital channels (ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 and the CITV channel). He is responsible for commissioning, acquiring and scheduling across the channels. Between 2006 and 2009, Zai was Controller of ITV2, one of the most successful multichannels in the UK.


“I have had a simply amazing time at ITV with some of the most talented people in television today, but I am delighted to be joining the BBC and especially BBC Three. The channel is on fire at the moment and I hope to be able to continue to support everyone’s great work on quality programmes. The BBC is the most creative broadcaster in the world and BBC Three is an essential gateway for younger audiences to its phenomenal work.” – Zai Bennett


Under Zai’s stewardship, ITV2 has had successes with original shows including Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, with Billie Piper; Katy Brand’s first comedy show; Celebrity Juice, with Keith Lemon; and The Only Way Is Essex. ITV3 has aired hit original drama Ladies Of Letters as well as the Crime Thriller Awards. For ITV4, Zai secured highlights to the Ashes between England and Australia and gave Freddie Flintoff his first major TV series, Freddie Flintoff Versus The World.


Zai has worked at ITV since 1998 in a number of different roles including Head of Programme Strategy, ITV Digital Channels and ITV2 Programming and Acquisitions Manager. Prior to that, he worked on the launch of Channel 5 and started his career at Carlton Television. BBC Three has established itself as the most watched digital channel by both young viewers and viewers overall in its hours broadcast and, for the second time in three years, was named Non Terrestrial Channel of the Year at the Media Guardian Edinburgh TV Festival.


The channel’s share for 16 to-34-year-olds has grown by 58 per cent during the past three years, reaching more than a third of young audiences.