Dawn Airey’s on her way already as Richard Desmond moves in at Five

We questioned yesterday if the combination of Five boss Dawn Airey and new owner Richard Desmond would be a marriage made in heaven, which shows that you shouldn’t pose questions to which you already have the answer.

Airey, who’s been in her job (for the second time) since 2008 has decided she’s off already apparently, it’s suggested to join Five former owner RTL in “a management role.”

Quite what this will be is open to debate, RTL is a big broadcaster in continental Europe but it’s hard to imagine Airey, who loves the ups, downs and politics of television in the UK and is known to some as ‘Scarey Airey’, running a channel in, say, Hilversum. RTL does, though, own producer Talkback Thames which makes The Apprentice.

More likely RTL has offered her an escape route as she tries to help Desmond, the owner of Express Newspapers, celebrity magazine OK! and various digital porn channels, move in without laying waste too many Five careers.

Desmond, in turn, is reported to have tried to persuade her to stay but this looks like a case of ‘they would say that, wouldn’t they?’

So we can all be prepared for fireworks at Five as Desmond imposes his inimitable brand of management on the station. This consists of various elements including cutting staff, winding up other companies in the same industry and having his butler bring him a banana on a silver tray at various times in the day.

And, true to form, he’s already axed seven of Five’s nine directors including Programme director Richard Woolfe who only joined a year ago from Sky.

But he’s also good at generating cash from his various businesses, claiming to have made a billion pound fortune since he bought the Express titles a decade ago.

Today he introduced himself to the troops (or what’s left of them) at Five for the first time. It will be interesting to lean whether Airey maked an appearance.

One of his first announcements is likely to be a return to name Channel Five (or 5) from Five. He’s now a member of the broadcasting establishment after all.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.