People/Biz

Channel 4 streamlines commissioning structure, Sarah Lazenby to exit

UK pubcaster Channel 4 has announced a major executive shuffle to streamline and shore up its ability to deliver on its Future4 strategy, which launched last November. Under the new restructure ...
January 27, 2021

UK pubcaster Channel 4 has announced a major executive shuffle to streamline and shore up its ability to deliver on its Future4 strategy, which launched last November.

Under the new restructure all of Channel 4′s creative and editorial decision making across linear, streaming and social will fall under Ian Katz (pictured), who will become chief content officer.

As well, there will be fewer program genres and less bureaucratic layers, which C4 hopes will speed-up its decision-making process and streamline how the channel interacts with outside stakeholders.

As part of the corporate shake-up, features commissioning is moving to Nations & Regions, a decision that is resulting in the departure of Sarah Lazenby, head of features and formats after six years. Her slate will be folded into other teams including factual entertainment, entertainment; and features & daytime which will fall under Glasgow-based Jo Street – currently head of daytime.

The role of head of specialist factual, which currently sits vacant, will not be filled. Danny Horan will continue to be the lead for all factual programming across documentaries and specialist factual.

Under this new corporate structure there will be seven genre commission department heads, two less than previously.

Phil Harris, head of entertainment will report to Katz alongside the remaining genre commissioning heads: head of factual entertainment, Alf Lawrie; head of features & daytime, Jo Street; head of factual, Danny Horan; head of news, current affairs & sport, Louisa Compton; head of drama, Caroline Hollick; and head of comedy, Fiona McDermott.

Karl Warner will become head of youth & digital with a brief to commission young skewing content that will drive both E4 and all digital platforms. Warner will also hire a new head of digital commissioning, as well as establishing a new commissioning role focused on youth-driven shows for E4 and All 4.

In a statement concerning the restructure, Katz said: “As we shift our focus to digital viewing, we need a structure which allows us to make joined-up decisions about all platforms and all types of content, originated and acquired, in the round. These changes will help us to do that and I hope they’ll also make us a simpler and speedier creative partner to work with.”

The Future4 strategy, unveiled last November by C4 CEO Alex Mahon, revealed a large scope blueprint for the next five years which included a renewed focus on All 4 and the creation of a £30m ($42m USD/$53m CDN) fund to invest in formats with global potential.

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