New boss Mahon faces tough job at Channel 4

Ever heard of Alex Mahon? Nope, me neither but she’s the new CEO of Channel 4.

She’s the former boss of Shine, the producer Elizabeth Murdoch founded, and currently works for a Hollywood special effects company. Mahon (below) is well known to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which appointed her, because she served on its panel looking at the future of the BBC.

One of her first jobs will be deal with the Government (assuming the Tories win Thursday’s General Election, which they may not) over its plans to move C4 to Birmingham. This was vigorously opposed by outgoing CEO, former adman David Abraham. She will also have to find a successor to programme boss Jay Hunt, who resigned a few days ago.

C4 is publicly owned but ad-funded and ad sales, currently running at about £1bn which puts the channel in profit, are under pressure post the Brexit vote, as its bigger and stronger rival ITV is finding. In a world with seemingly a new version of Netflix appearing every week this volume will be hard to sustain. Smaller rival UKTV, part-owned by the BBC, is now performing strongly which may chip away at C4’s ad share.

C4, to the fury of most of the UK’s right wing newspapers and many Tory MPs, is a national treasure of sorts, brave and enterprising.

But Mahon has a big job on her hands at a station which may well get smaller.

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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.