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O’Donoghue joins ITV Studios

Hat Trick co-founder to head U.K. prod'n arm

Commercial giant ITV has tapped the co-founder of U.K. shingle Hat Trick, Denise O’Donoghue, to lead the revival of its production business.

O’Donoghue, who left London-based NBC Universal Intl. in January after only four months in the job, takes a newly created role as managing director of ITV Studios U.K.

Move is a reflection of CEO Adam Crozier’s determination to re-energize ITV Studios. O’Donoghue will lead commercial strategy and have responsibility for production management, rights management and business affairs.

Crozier said: “A key part of our five-year strategy is to build a stronger content business and to develop the relationship between ITV Studios and our broadcast business.”

“Denise has a fantastic track record as an entrepreneur creating great content and commercial value.”

“She and Kevin Lygo (ITV Studios international topper) will make a formidable team, spearheading the development of ITV Studios.”

Over two decades, O’Donoghue and onetime partner Jimmy Mulville turned Hat Trick into one of Blighty’s most successful shingles, based on an impressive portfolio of comedy and entertainment shows.

Her challenge to beef up ITV Studios will demand much of her entrepreneurial and talent management skills, and it will be intriguing to see how a player such as O’Donoghue fits into ITV’s new corporate structure.

Right now, ITV1 does not want for hit shows. The problem is that fare like “The X Factor” and “Downton Abbey” are made by indies, so the broadcaster fails to reap backend revenues.

If Crozier is to turn cash-strapped ITV round, he will need to dramatically increase the number of hit shows made inhouse. In September, the CEO said that in 2005 ITV made 65% of its own fare compared with 47% today. Its last inhouse hit was 2006’s “Dancing on Ice.”

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