Airey quits ITV for Five

Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster ITV has revealed the shock news that its managing director of global content, Dawn Airey, had resigned with immediate effect, less than a year after she joined the company.

She will be taking an extended period of gardening leave prior to joining pan-European broadcaster RTL Group in a senior position, including being Chair of its UK commercial TV licensee, Five. It is understood the channel's chief executive, Jane Lighting, will resign her post in the coming days.

Airey previously worked for the station (originally known as Channel 5) as director of programmes in 1996, going on to serve as chief executive between 2000 and 2003. She moved on to BSkyB as managing director of Sky Networks, leaving to join ill-fated start-up Iostar in early 2007.

ITV had given Airey a budget of £200 million to acquire content production companies and a target of doubling the revenues of the division to £1.2 billion by 2012.

Recent reports have linked RTL, which has hired Airey, with interest in buying the 17.9 per cent stake in ITV owned by BSkyB. The broadcaster has been ordered by the government to reduce the stake to 7.5 per cent at most

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