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ITV’s Airey becomes No. 3 at pubcaster Channel 4

In a surprise move, Dawn Airey will be named today as the new controller of arts and entertainment at Channel 4, the No. 3 job at the commercial TV web.

Airey, 33, is currently controller of daytime programs at the ITV Network Centre and was Central TV’s scheduling chief.

While Airey is one of British TV’s highest-rated young execs, she has no program-making experience, and her appointment to one of the country’s top programming jobs is sure to ruffle feathers among Channel 4’s notoriously sensitive commissioned editors and indie producers.

It will also be seen as a serious blow to the Network Centre, the body formed just over a year ago to program the ITV web. Despite ITV’s strong ratings performance last year, morale at the center is reportedly low following the spate of takeovers among major ITV stations, which has cast doubt on the degree of autonomy it will be permitted in the future.

Airey fills the job at Channel 4 vacated by Andrea Wonfor, who left late last year to join Granada TV. Channel 4, a pubcaster wholly funded by advertising with a directive to serve minority interests, is riding high after a successful first year of selling its own advertising airtime independently from the ITV web.

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