Dunthorne to head up U.K.’s Channel 5

Exec is former topper of adult content TV network

LONDON — The topper who once ran a portfolio of adult channels at U.K. media group Northern and Shell has been tapped as chief operating officer of the company’s British terrestrial free-to-air web, Channel 5.

Paul Dunthorne was the seasoned managing director of Portland TV before becoming director of channels and operations at Channel 5 in January 2011.

Portland TV operates a portfolio of porn channels including Gay Chat TV and Television X, which airs such fare as “Surburban Orgy,” “Northern Exposer” and “Wobbling Whoppers 2.”

The move follows the recent announcement that Jeff Ford, Channel 5’s director of programs, is leaving the broadcaster at the beginning of December. In a statement, Northern and Shell, whose chairman is the flamboyant Richard Desmond, said: “Paul Dunthorne will take over day-to-day management of Channel 5.

“The board looks forward to announcing an additional appointment to lead Channel 5’s content operations, including commissioning and acquisitions.”

Dunthorne, like Ford, will report to long-time Desmond lieutenant Paul Ashford, Northern and Shell’s editorial director.

Since buying Channel 5 from RTL in the summer of 2010, the web has become profitable and boosted its profile, thanks to shows like “Big Brother” and the reboot of “Dallas.”

Ford, who will reportedly become a consultant to Channel 5, is unlikely to be short of jobs offers as he is one of Blighty’s most highly regarded program and film buyers.