Five cuts begin but Desmond pledges £1.5bn

Five is to lose seven of its nine executive directors in a management cull as new owner Richard Desmond looks to cut £20m (E24m) from the business. In total up to 80 jobs will go. Among the leaving are director of strategy Charles Constable and managing director Mark White. Dawn Airey, the Five chairman and chief executive, will not leave for several months and is moving to a senior role at Five’s former owner, RTL. Managing director of digital channels, Jeff Ford, and the sales director, Kelly Williams, will remain with the business.

Northern & Shell said: “The savings aim to realise efficiencies deriving from Channel Five’s integration into the Northern & Shell group of companies and at the same time develop an ambitious new investment plan that will see the channel go toe-to-toe with the biggest players in the TV world.”

The channel’s employees were also informed that they will be moving offices from Covent Garden to Desmond’s Northern & Shell premises on Lower Thames Street in the City and Docklands.

Overall Channel Five group, which includes digital services Fiver and Five USA, reported losses of E41m last year with E22m in programme writedowns. Operating losses were E10m. TV ad revenues fell 21% year on year to E303m.

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