Andy Duncan to depart Channel 4 as Chief Executive

Channel 4 say farewell to Andy Duncan as the broadcaster announces his departure as CE.

Channel 4 Chief Executive, Andy Duncan, has announced his intention to step down from his post before the end of the year having confirmed his decision to the Channel 4 board earlier today.

“By any measure, it’s been a great five years, during which time we’ve punched well above our weight, out-performing our immediate rivals both creatively and commercially. The British public are watching and using more of our TV programmes, film and online content and services than ever before. Having coped with dramatic structural change and an unprecedented downturn substantially better than most, I believe Channel 4 is in a great position to face the future with real confidence.

Duncan’s departure statement continues;

“Our future as the main source of public service competition to the BBC has been secured, with the Digital Britain report strongly endorsing our vision for Channel 4 as a digital public service network and the updated remit we proposed due to be enshrined in legislation in the autumn. The publication of the Digital Britain report was also a natural moment for me to take stock and since then I have been in discussion with Luke and other board members about the future. Channel 4 is facing a further period of change, with a fresh regulatory cycle looming and with the cancellation of Big Brother signalling the most significant creative renewal in our history. We have mutually agreed that this feels like the appropriate moment for me to hand on the baton to someone else and to move on to a fresh challenge after more than five years at the helm.”

Since joining Channel 4 in July 2004, Duncan has overseen sustained growth, with the Group’s share of total TV viewing increasing from 10% in 2003 to an historic high of 12%. This record share of viewing has allowed the Group to grow its share of UK television advertising every year since 2004, from 20% to in excess of 24%.

“My intention in announcing my decision in advance is to ensure a period of stable leadership, which will allow the board to proceed with recruiting my successor in parallel with Ofcom’s appointment of a new chairman. I hope that clarifying my intentions will allow everyone at Channel 4 to get on with the job at hand without the distracting speculation of recent weeks. In my remaining months I intend to see through important further steps towards securing the best possible future for this organisation, including the update of our remit and the completion of a number of exciting commercial partnerships currently under discussion.” – Andy Duncan

The growth for the broacaster under Duncan’s time in charge has been driven by the major success of its digital TV strategy including the relaunch of E4 and Film4 on Freeview and the launch of More4 and 4Music on all digital TV platforms. In 2007, Channel 4 became the first terrestrial channel to launch a +1 timeshifted version of its schedule and a full high definition service on Sky Digital.

“The board is grateful for Andy’s effective leadership. Channel 4 has enjoyed record creative and commercial success in the last five years while skilfully navigating the seismic upheavals in digital media. When the time comes, he will depart with our best wishes for his future success.In the meantime, we will immediately get on with the process of appointing his successor. We will move swiftly to appoint headhunters with a view to appointing a replacement in due course. I have asked our finance director, Anne Bulford, to lead the Group on an interim basis in the event that Andy leaves before his successor is in place.” – Channel 4 Chairman, Luke Johnson

Channel 4 has also pioneered in digital media, becoming the world’s first broadcaster to make its commissioned schedule available online via the launch of 4oD in 2006. Since the relaunch of 4oD and this year, it has punched well above its weight and is currently claiming around 20% of the UK VOD market. It has won plaudits for its £50m 4iP digital innovation fund and for its innovative cross platform activity in education and other areas, which has led to a range of Bafta and Emmy-winning content.

The network is one of several Public Service Broadcasters in the UK which have requirements to provide a certain level of quality output including news programming, children’s broadcasting and political output. Other PSB UK companies include STV in Scotland, CTV for the Channel Islands, ITV in England and Wales and of course the corporation, BBC.

“We’ve made tremendous progress towards our strategic goal of transitioning our public service and business models into digital. Channel 4’s future as a public service network is far more secure now than it was when I took over and that is the key criteria that anyone leading this brilliant organisation would wish to be judged by.” – Andy Duncan