Channel 4 CEO David Abraham has announced plans for restructuring the Brit broadcaster, with an aim towards combining all commissioning and creative duties under a single, cross-platform division for the first time in its history.
Current C4 head Julian Bellamy has been named acting chief creative officer, as the broadcaster begins its search for a CCO to lead the new division. Bellamy has been invited to apply for the new role, a position that combines Kevin Lygo’s former responsibilities as director of TV and content and Bellamy’s current role.
Furthermore, staff in the Future Media team involved with the commissioning and production of content for channel4.com and other digital properties, such as 4iP, will join their counterparts in television commissioning within the larger division.
The number of execs directly reporting to Abraham will be halved, from 13 to six, including the CCO. The intention is to reduce Channel 4′s senior management group by 25%, or 12 posts, before the end of the year. The broadcaster says it will achieve this aim by not replacing current vacancies and through ‘a small number of redundancies.’
‘We are going further than any other broadcaster has yet gone to fully integrate our commissioning and content teams as we anticipate the tipping point in the convergence of television with other media,’ said Abraham in a statement. ‘We need to fundamentally evolve the way we work in response to this convergence, becoming leaner, more efficient and blending a multi-platform approach into the center of the organization, rather than leaving ‘new’ media in its own isolated silo.
‘Combining our two most senior creative roles also takes out a layer of management and is intended to offer our commissioning heads a clear and direct route to the creative center of the organization, delegating more responsibility to them and empowering them to pursue creative innovation across all platforms,’ he continued.
Abraham added that there will be further restructuring of the current commissioning teams, ‘to again reduce layers of management and overlap and offer our independent suppliers that same direct route into our senior creative decision makers.’
As for the decision to open up the recruitment drive for the chief creative officer position to external candidates, Abraham said, ‘It is very important for Channel 4 to hold an open and formal recruitment process to identify its new creative leader, but my decision to advertise the post is in no way a reflection on Julian’s capabilities and my confidence in his potential to do this role. He will be a strong candidate for this position.’
The restructure has already resulted in the promotion of Anne Bulford, currently group finance director and acting chief executive from October 2009 to May 2010, to chief operating officer. In addition to overseeing finance, legal and compliance and commercial affairs, she will now have strategy, commercial and business development and technology operations under her watch.
The restructuring will also result in a new senior executive post: the director of audience technologies and insight will oversee all areas related to research, data capture and database management analysis and its commercial use within the organization. Of the new role, Abraham said, ‘the aim is to fundamentally change our culture to become much more audience focused and create an even greater sense of connection with our brand in the highly competitive and converged world of fully digital media.’
Additionally, a new external communications role will combine duties involving corporate relations, marketing, press and publicity and policy and regulation. Matt Baker, who’d headed up C4′s press office for the past decade, announced his departure from the broadcaster in a separate press release. Baker, formerly an editor for UK trade Broadcast and media editor for Sunday Business, plans to leave public relations for a period and work on assorted freelance projects. He will stay in his role until a candidate for the new external communications role is found.
‘David has bold and imaginative plans for Channel 4 and he’s kindly made clear there is still a place for me here,’ Baker said in the statement. ‘But having worked with three previous chief executives and talked myself hoarse over more than a decade, this feels the right time to switch off my Blackberry.’