Exclusive: Cathy Payne to leave Endemol Shine International

Cathy Payne

Endemol Shine International’s CEO Cathy Payne is to step down in early 2020, TBI has confirmed.

Payne’s decision has been in the works for a couple of months and transition plans are now in the works for a replacement. She told staff at the distribution giant today, ahead of MIPCOM next week.

In a memo to her team, Payne said: “This has not been an easy decision, but I knew that I wanted 2020 to bring a brand new challenge.” She added that she had let Endemol Shine Group CEO Sophie Turner-Laing and chief strategy & commercial officer Wim Ponnet know about her decision “some months back.”

Details of her next move are not yet known while exact dates of her departure are yet to be confirmed.

Peaky Blinders

Prior to taking up her current role at ESI following the merger of Endemol Group and Shine Group in 2014, Payne was chief exec of Endemol Worldwide Distribution, a role she held since June 2009.

Before that, she was chief exec of Southern Star International for nine years, growing the division to become one of the largest distributors of English-language programming outside of the Hollywood Studios.

Payne, who had worked with Southern Star for more than 20 years, now oversees a vast slate at ESI that spans all genres and includes dramas such as Peaky Blinders, culinary juggernaut MasterChef, reality veteran Big Brother and musical format All Together Now. Earlier this year, she told TBI that the piece of content that had most influenced her career was Australian soap Home & Away.

Turner-Laing described Payne as “a simply brilliant sales leader” whose “contribution has been beyond exceptional.”

She added: “But I’m also respectful of her wishes for a new challenge. As you will all expect, she has been singularly focused on wanting to see us through this upcoming MIPCOM and year end. So, full tributes will be on ice… but just for now.”


The Endemol Shine CEO said that “planning is underway on transition to the next chapter” but gave no further details of a replacement.

Ponnett added: “Cathy has rightfully earned her reputation as one of the most highly regarded, commercially astute executives in the business. Her dedication, tenacity and competitive nature is legendary and her legacy as an all-time Endemol Shine ‘Great’ is assured.

“Cathy is characteristically laser focused on making MIPCOM, and 2019’s year end as successful as possible. She will then also help with a smooth and detailed handover for ESI, colleagues and clients as part of the overall sales division.”

Payne’s exit comes amid a period of ongoing turbulence at Endemol Shine, which has been up for sale for almost two years. Several outfits are understood to be interested, including All3Media, whose renewed interest in acquiring the company was first reported by TBI in July.

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