Katz (pictured) effectively succeeds Jay Hunt, who was C4’s chief creative officer until exiting recently and joining Apple to run its original programming out of the UK.
He will join in January 2018, at which point interim chief creative officer Ralph Lee, who had also been linked with the post, will exit.
Katz name was first linked to the role earlier this month, though most within the TV industry expected a more traditional channel controller such as BBC Three’s Damian Kavanagh to get the nod.
The new recruit joins from BBC’s Newsnight programme, where he is editor. Before that, he was deputy editor of left-leaning UK newspaper The Guardian.
The move comes a day after former Shine Group chief executive Alex Mahon took over the reigns as CEO at C4, which is set to relocate from London under orders from the British government.
“Ian is an inspirational leader who assiduously builds and nurtures talented and empowered teams,” said Mahon. He has fantastic instincts and intelligence, huge editorial strength and is a proven creative and digital innovator, who lives and breathes the Channel 4 values.”
“I’m impossibly excited to be joining a broadcaster whose unique combination of innovation, risk-taking and elan I have admired for decades as a viewer – and more recently as a frequently envious rival,” said Katz.
“Channel 4’s deeply held values and relentlessly challenging sensibility have never been more important or relevant and I feel incredibly privileged to play a part in shaping the next stage of its remarkable journey.”