Alex Mahon named as new Channel 4 chief executive

image copyrightAdam Lawrence
image captionAlex Mahon will take over later this year

Alex Mahon has been named as the new chief executive of Channel 4.

She is the first woman to take on the role in the broadcaster's 35-year history.

Mahon was previously head of Shine Group until 2015 and is currently chief executive of special effects company Foundry.

She succeeds David Abraham, who announced his departure earlier this year, and will start her new role this autumn.

'Changing times'

Mahon said: "Channel 4's unique remit to innovate and to appeal to young and diverse audiences make it an essential part of British culture.

"There is nowhere in the world like Channel 4 and, in these changing times, its mission is more important than ever.

"I'm incredibly proud to be joining Channel 4 and bring to it experience both of leading creative organisations at scale and dealing with an environment of constant technological change."

Mahon's many challenges, by Amol Rajan, BBC News media editor

Alex Mahon's appointment to Channel 4 is notable for many reasons, one being that she is the first woman to run a major British broadcaster since Dawn Airey at Channel 5. But the other is that, in looking for their new CEO, the Channel 4 Board has appointed someone from a technology company with useful connections to government - and Hollywood.

Foundry, the special effects company that Mahon runs, is at the cutting edge of virtual reality TV. Films like Gravity and Guardians of the Galaxy owe their dazzling visuals to work by Mahon's team. The Channel 4 Board clearly think connections to big budget productions in Hollywood will come in handy. She was previously CEO of Shine Group, the production giant behind Masterchef.

But Mahon, who will start in October or November, also worked with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as part of an advisory panel on the future direction of the BBC. Her first task as leader of Channel 4 is to head to the DCMS and figure out where Channel 4 is going to be based.

The Tory manifesto said it would be relocated. I understand, however, that discussions between the broadcaster and government on what that means exactly are still to be had, and no final decision on how much of Channel 4 will move - and indeed where it would move to.

Channel 4 is undergoing tremendous upheaval. Not only is David Abraham, the CEO, leaving, but chief creative officer Jay Hunt announced last week that she would be going too. Staff at the broadcaster are unsure where their headquarters are going to be.

Before she can steer it into the future, Mahon has to steady the ship.

Chair of channel 4 Charles Gurassa said: "Alex is an outstanding leader and a highly experienced CEO who has developed and grown major international businesses in both the creative and technology sectors.

"She brings an impressive combination of relevant experience and is brilliantly placed to help steer Channel 4 through the competitive challenges and opportunities ahead."

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