A hugely admired executive, Byrne’s decision comes less than a year since she delivered an acclaimed and much-talked about MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival where she attacked TV industry sexism, lambasted politicians for lying, and stressed the role TV must play in preserving democracy.
Her department has also been responsible for documentaries including “Leaving Neverland,” the investigation into Michael Jackson, as well Oscar nominated Syrian war doc “For Sama.”
In her new role, which she will take on for a year from May 1, Byrne will work with C4 on a number of projects including developing a factual podcast strategy and helping to shape and implement a new sustainability strategy. She will also help mentor and develop staff across the organization.
Byrne will also continue to contribute towards program ideas, but will not take an active commissioning role.
Channel 4’s director of programs Ian Katz has kicked off a recruitment process for a new head of news & current affairs.
Byrne said: “The last year has been one of great success for Channel 4 News and Current Affairs and for me personally so it’s the perfect time for me to step aside and give someone else the pleasure of the best job in television. I will continue to contribute to the creative life of the channel. I am also very excited to be working to help develop the careers of staff, particularly of women, at the channel and also to be playing a key role in the creation of a new sustainability policy for Channel 4.”
Katz said: “No British media executive has done as much to shape the coverage of news and current affairs on television as Dorothy. Over more than 15 years she has been the restless force behind agenda setting Channel 4 programming from the exposing of war crimes in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to the recent laying bare of Michael Jackson’s child sexual abuse. She has a laser-like eye for a story, huge creative flair and Channel 4 DNA running through her like rock. I’m so pleased that she will be staying at the channel for another year in her new role as editor-at-large.”
Byrne is one of the longest-serving heads of commissioning in the U.K. television industry.
Byrne was also honored with the Grierson Trustees’ Award at the 2019 Documentary Awards. “Channel 4 News” was also crowned Daily News Program of the Year by the Royal Television Society, while Channel 4 film “For Sama” won a BAFTA and was nominated for an Oscar.
She was made a Fellow of the Royal Television Society for her “outstanding contribution to television” and received the Outstanding Contribution Award at the RTS Journalism Awards in 2018.
A former “World in Action” producer and editor of ITV’s “The Big Story,” she became Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs in 2003, having previously edited current affairs series “Dispatches” as well as producing arts and history series for the channel.