UK’s C4 overhauls commissioning & acquisitions with Sarah Lazenby departing

Ian Katz

Channel 4 in the UK has become the latest broadcaster to restructure its senior exec team to focus on streaming, with programming chief Ian Katz handed an expanded remit but formats & features chief Sarah Lazenby departing.

The changes, which come three months after C4 unveiled new digital plans as part of its Future4 strategy, are designed to simplify the content team and will give Katz – who becomes chief content officer – all editorial decision making across linear, streaming and social.

The Great British Bake-Off

Clearer commissioning

In total, there will be seven genre commissioning heads of department, two fewer than previously. These include: head of entertainment, Phil Harris, who like the other six, now report directly to Katz.

Other genre commissioning heads include: Alf Lawrie for factual entertainment; Jo Street for features & daytime; Danny Horan for factual; Louisa Compton for news, current affairs & sport; Caroline Hollick for drama; and Fiona McDermott for comedy.

Katz’s remit also includes oversight of acquisitions, which moves from commercial affairs to report into Kiran Nataraja, who has been promoted to director of content strategy & planning and will focus on planning and investment across streaming and linear services.

Emma Hardy is also promoted to the role of director of commissioning operations, with a focus on C4’s producer and talent strategies, and with Nataraja will subsume some of the remit of Kelly Webb Lamb, C4’s deputy director of programmes & head of popular factual who revealed she was leaving earlier this month. Hardy will also be recruiting for a new role of head of indie relations.

Kelly Webb-Lamb

The overhaul will see Glasgow-based Jo Street, who had been head of daytime, taking on additional responsibility for the genre and becoming head of features & daytime, with features commissioning responsibility moving out of London. Current head of features & formats Lazenby will exit as a result of the changes after six years with the broadcaster, during which she secured cookery format Bake Off from the BBC.

Responsibility for More4 commissioning will also move under Street, while Karl Warner becomes head of youth & digital, with a brief to commission young skewing content for linear net E4 and all digital platforms. He also has oversight of 4Music and the Box channels, and will recruit a new head of digital commissioning, who will report to him with responsibility for social commissioning and a new commissioning role focused on young-skewing shows for E4 and All 4.

The currently-vacant role of head of specialist factual will not be filled, with Horan continuing to take responsibility for all factual programming across documentaries and specialist factual.

Nick Lee, currently head of series acquisitions, will become head of acquisitions & international and will move from commercial affairs to report into Nataraja, with an added remit for content planning at streamer All 4.

Alex Mahon

‘Joined-up’ thinking

Katz said: “As we shift our focus to digital viewing, we need a structure which allows us to make joined-up decisions about all platforms and all types of content, originated and acquired, in the round. These changes will help us to do that and I hope they’ll also make us a simpler and speedier creative partner to work with.”

Alex Mahon, C4 chief executive, added that the changes would give the broadcaster “a clearer and simplified structure” while enabling it to “accelerate our focus on digital” and put viewers “|at the heart of our decision making.”

Her direct reports, who comprised the organisation’s CEO Committee, are: COO Jonathan Allan; chief content officer, Ian Katz; chief marketing officer Zaid Al-Qassab; chief revenue officer Verica Djurdjevic; director of Film 4 Daniel Battsek; and director of commercial affairs, Martin Baker. Following the changes, director of communications and corporate affairs James MacLeod is leaving the broadcaster later this year.

Tags: Channel 4

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