At the start of March, former BBC director of television Mark Thompson will take up his new post as chief executive of the U.K.’s Channel 4. It will be the first time since 1979 Thompson will leave for work and not arrive at the BBC. Having joined the pubcaster as a production trainee, Thompson earned the editorial helm of both ‘Panorama’ and the Nine O’Clock News, eventually becoming director of national and regional broadcasting before landing his role as BBC director general Greg Dyke’s right-hand man.
Despite reports that Thompson’s presentation to the C4 interview panel ran close to four hours, he has been tight-lipped about his vision for the outlet. However, in a press conference held mid-December, Thompson praised C4′s Big Brother format for its creative distinctiveness, and indicated the C4 schedule would continue to include high profile documentary projects, such as Plague, Fire, War and Treason and The Six Wives of Henry viii, which ran in 2001. ‘I think this is a moment in the history of TV where big, bold projects will really punch through,’ said Thompson. He also explained he was against privatizing the network, arguing it would hinder innovation and diversity. Thompson’s plans for C4′s digital, E4, and FilmFour ventures, which suffered budget cuts for 2002 in the £34 million (US$49 million) range, remain unknown.