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Channel 4 restructure continues with return of COO role

UK broadcaster Channel 4 has created a number of new executive roles – including chief operating officer and chief product officer – as part of a shakeup of the top brass.

The chief product officer will spearhead the UK broadcaster’s push into new digital areas and will also take responsibility for online service All 4.

The chief operating officer will lead Channel 4’s finance, workspace, operations and information systems teams.

Keith Underwood, who was previously director of strategy and technology, will take on the COO role while a full recruitment process takes place.

Channel 4 last had a COO in 2013, but has not filled the post since Anne Bulford left for the BBC.

This follows the departure of group finance director, Glyn Isherwood, who joined the BBC earlier this month.

Channel 4 has also appointed former Shine, News International and TalkbackThames human resources executive Caroline Ross to the new role of chief human resources officer.

Channel 4’s current head of HR, Stephanie Cox, is stepping down to spend more time with her family and is due to leave Channel 4 on May 2.

At the same time, Channel 4’s director of consumer insight, Sarah Rose, has been appointed chief consumer and strategy officer – a new role that brings together Channel 4’s strategy, audience and commercial research teams, as well as data science.

Channel 4 sales director, Jonathan Allan, has been made chief commercial officer with additional responsibilities for leading Channel 4’s 4 All the UK Nations and Regions strategy.

Head of planning, Lynette Huntley, has been appointed to the new role of chief of staff, working to CEO Alex Mahon on “priority projects”.

The other members of the executive team remain: director commercial affair, Martin Baker; director of Film4 Daniel Battsek; chief marketing and communications officer Dan Brooke; and director of programmes Ian Katz. All continue to report directly to Mahon.

The changes to the Channel 4 executive team were announced by Mahon, who joined the broadcaster as chief executive from visual effects business Foundry last summer.

“Our leadership team comprises some of the industry’s leading commercial and creative innovators and these new roles will strengthen our strategic capabilities, especially as we develop further in digital,” said Mahon.

The news comes in the same week new programmes chief Katz hired BBC Two commissioner Danny Horan, who was behind the greenlight of factual series Hospital, as head of factual.

He replaces Ralph Lee, who held factual duties along with his former position as deputy chief creative officer. Lee left at the end of last year.

Horan will sit above head of documentaries Nick Mirsky and a currently unnamed head of specialist factual. Rob Coldstream, interim head of specialist factual, left earlier this month.

Channel 4 has also this week seen interim head of factual entertainment Lucy Leveugle exit after six years.

The broadcaster recently unveiled the biggest structural change in its three-decade history, with three new production and broadcast bases being created around the UK, with a reduced office in London remaining.

Additional reporting by Jesse Whittock