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Airey takes international role at ITV

Highflier heads global production

LONDON — ITV has confirmed that ex-Five and BSkyB topper, Dawn Airey, is to join the broadcaster in the newly created role of director of global content.

The job, which she will start in October, will involve her developing ITV’s U.K. and international production, distribution and content exploitation businesses.

Airey will oversee ITV Productions, Granada Ventures, Granada International and ITV’s overseas production activities in the U.S., Germany and Oz.

In a statement she said: “It’s wonderful to return to my alma mater.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be joining ITV and I’m looking forward to working with some of the U.K.’s best production talent.

“Together with (director of ITV Productions) John Whiston and his creative team, I’m confident that we can deliver the programs and content that Simon Shaps and his commissioners want in order to continue the reinvigoration of ITV1.

“ITV has strong and growing international production and distribution businesses and I’m thrilled about having the opportunity to help develop them further.”

Airey recently quit her role as channels chief at BSkyB to run abortive upstart Iostar.

She walked out of Iostar, designed to be a one-stop talent, production and distribution outfit, after eight days when she realized it had not been fully funded.

The upstart has since gone into liquidation.

Persuading Airey, one of Blighty’s most high profile webheads, to join ITV represents new executive chair Michael Grade’s biggest coup since he arrived at the company in January.

She and Grade are old colleagues having worked together when he ran Channel 4 in the 1990s, prior to Airey joining Channel 5.

It is possible that Grade sees Airey, who began her career at ITV license holder Central and was head of children’s and daytime at ITV, as a potential CEO.

When Grade agreed to joint the embattled broadcaster last fall he said his intention was to appoint a CEO after two years — and Airey, who was close to joining ITV in a very senior role prior to being headhunted by BSkyB, is well qualified for the role.

Intriguingly Airey’s joining ITV could lead to tensions with the broadcaster’s director of television, Simon Shaps, who will be commissioning shows from the production division.

Grade inherited Shaps from the previous regime and there has been speculation that he might leave ITV following the arrival of the new chairman.

But the two are understood to have formed a good working relationship and while ITV still needs to raise its game there are signs that the much longed-for revival in the broadcaster’s fortunes may be underway.

Shaps’ hand ought to have been strengthened by ITV’s strong perf at last weekend’s BAFTA TV awards when ITV1 surprised industryites by winning more gongs than any other single channel.

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