New Five boss wanted Airey

Steve Dinneen
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NEW Channel Five owner Richard Desmond was desperate to maintain the services of outgoing chief executive Dawn Airey before her shock resignation yesterday, according to industry sources.

Airey has enacted a clause in her contract that guaranteed her a senior role at former Five parent company RTL in the event of the broadcaster being bought.

She will remain at the channel for “a few months” to oversee the transition, which will include around 80 job losses from the 300-strong staff.

She said yesterday: “The day Five was sold, my job was done. I love Five, its staff, its spirit and all we have achieved. I wish the channel, its team, Richard Desmond and Northern & Shell all the success they deserve.”

Also following her out at board level will be channel controller Richard Woolfe, director of strategy Charles Constable, director of corporate affairs Sue Robertson, managing director Mark White, director of finance David Hockley, director of legal Paul Chinnery and head of HR Natasha Adams.

It was announced that Five’s director of digital channels Jeff Ford will be promoted to programme director.

Desmond says the cost cutting drive will be partly used to fund an ambitious £300m a year investment programme.

A spokesman said: “The savings aim to realise efficiencies deriving from Five’s integration into the Northern & Shell group of companies and at the same time develop an ambitious new investment plan that will see the channel go toe-to-toe with the biggest players in the TV world.”

Trusted Desmond lieutenant Paul Ashford is understood to have been drafted in to oversee the cost cutting drive.