C4’s chief Jackson shakes it up

LONDON — Michael Jackson, the new chief executive of Channel 4, has announced the biggest change for almost a decade in the web’s chain of editorial command.

He has abolished two senior posts, controller of factual programs and controller of arts and entertainment. Karen Brown, formerly controller of factual, becomes deputy director of programs, while arts and entertainment controller Stewart Cosgrove is relegated to the newly created post of program director for Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

But the biggest change of all has yet to be announced. That is the departure of C4’s director of programs John Willis, who was narrowly beaten by Jackson to the chief exec’s job, and now is negotiating his exit deal. Jackson is planning to take direct responsibility for programming himself, according to sources.

With the controllers and director of programs gone, the channel will be reorganized into five editorial departments — news and current affairs, headed by David Lloyd; film, headed by David Aukin; drama, headed by Gub Neal, hired by Jackson from Granada TV; entertainment; and documentary, education and features. Jackson currently is looking for execs to head these last two departments.

Daytime, sports and children’s programming will be handled directly by Karen Brown.

Among other changes, head of purchased programs Mairi Macdonald, who is responsible for buying such U.S. shows as “Friends” and “Frasier,” now will report directly to the director of programs.

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