×

C4 gets creative with marketeer CEO

Duncan's appointment may outrage traditionalists

LONDON – Channel 4, Blighty’s edgy commercial web, has broken with tradition and appointed a marketing maven as its CEO instead of an exec from a creative background.

New topper is Andy Duncan, director of marketing, communications and audiences at the BBC, where he played a leading role in the success of Freeview, a digital terrestrial platform now in 4 million U.K. homes.

Duncan’s appointment will outrage traditionalists who think C4 should spend less time promoting itself to appeal to under-35 auds and devote more energy to taking creative risks.

His lack of experience – C4’s four previous CEOs all came from a creative background in TV – will intensify concern in some quarters about the outfit’s long-term direction at a time when it is facing increasing competition and a possible merger with rival web Five.

Few, however, could deny the boldness of appointing a relative newcomer to the TV industry to such an important broadcasting job. Move shows new chairman Luke Johnson’s ability to think outside the box.

Before joining the BBC in 2001, Duncan, 41, had worked in marketing at consumer goods giant Unilever for 17 years.

Johnson, whose background is as an entrepreneur, described Duncan as the brightest media executive of the Channel 4 generation.

He added: “I think he’s going to be a great champion of Channel 4’s public-service mission and its unique brand of creativity.”

Duncan said: “All broadcasters are under pressure from the growth of digital TV, but I believe Channel 4 can face the future with confidence.”

During his time at the BBC, Duncan oversaw the launch of digital services including BBC3 and 4 and kids nets CBBC and Cbeebies.

He will start work as soon as possible at C4, which is the midst of a ratings resurgence thanks to reality and factual shows like “Big Brother” and “Wife Swap.”

Duncan replaces Mark Thompson, who took over as the BBC’s director general last month.

More TV

  • Frank Cicha

    Listen: Why Fox Television Stations Embraced Trial and Error in Daytime

    Frank Cicha, head of programming for Fox Television Stations, saw the future coming nearly a decade ago when Fox’s TV station group committed many millions to land syndication rights to “The Big Bang Theory” back in 2010. Even then, it was clear that big hits on the scale of “Big Bang” were going to be [...]

  • Sterling K. BrownVariety and Women in

    Sterling K. Brown to Narrate Disney Plus Documentary 'One Day at Disney' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sterling K. Brown is set to lend his voice to the upcoming Disney Plus feature documentary “One Day at Disney,” Variety has learned exclusively. “One Day at Disney” will highlight the people who work on some of Disney’s most beloved stories. The film will highlight 10 specific people and their role at Disney through the lens [...]

  • ABC Renews Full Summer Game Show

    ABC Renews Full Summer Game Show Slate, Including 'Pyramid,' 'Match Game,' 'Family Feud'

    The weather outside may be frightful, but ABC is already planning another summer of fun and games. The network announced Wednesday that its primetime gamers “The $100,000 Pyramid,” “Card Sharks,” “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Match Game,” “Press Your Luck” and “To Tell the Truth” have all been renewed for another season, joining the previously announced second [...]

  • David Cross

    'Genius: Aretha' at Nat Geo Casts David Cross (EXCLUSIVE)

    David Cross has joined the cast of the upcoming third season of “Genius” at Nat Geo, which will focus on music legend Aretha Franklin. Cross will star as music producer Jerry Wexler. Cynthia Erivo is set to play Franklin, with Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and Sanai [...]

  • Jennifer Williams, Special Advisor for Europe

    TV Ratings: Impeachment Hearings Day 3 Draws 12 Million Average Viewers

    Day 3 of the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump drew big numbers yet again across the major broadcast and news networks. An average of around 12 million total viewers tuned in across the morning and afternoon sessions, with 11.4 million watching in the morning and roughly 13 million in the afternoon. Fox News drew [...]

  • Black Summer

    'Black Summer' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

    Netflix has renewed the zombie thriller series “Black Summer” for a second season, Variety has learned. The second season will consist of eight episodes and will begin production next year in Alberta, Canada. Jamie King will return to star in the second season and will also serve as a producer. Cast members Justin Chu Cary and [...]

  • Anita Hill

    Anita Hill's Commission Launches Entertainment Industry Survey on Sexual Harassment

    The Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality, led by Anita Hill, has launched a survey of the entertainment industry. Hill accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his Senate confirmation hearings in 1991. Since then, in addition to teaching law and policy at Brandeis University, Hill has been [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content