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Friday, 27 October, 2000, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Channel 5 boss leaves
Naked Jungle: Keith Chegwin's show drew complaints
Channel 5 chief executive David Elstein has stepped down in a surprise move.

Programme director Dawn Airey is taking over his role and will combine her roles as programme director and chief executive initially.

Before joining Channel 5, Mr Elstein was director of programmes at Thames Television and BSkyB.

David Elstein
David Elstein: Immediate departure
He was also in the running to take over as Director General of the BBC last year - but beaten by Greg Dyke.

He said: "With all the senior team in place, there is no need for a handover period and the generosity of my contract terms allows me to consider my next step, free of the day-to-day pressures involved in running Channel 5.

"I am very proud of everything we have achieved, and our success reflects very well on the whole team.

"I am delighted that Dawn has agreed to lead that team and I am certain she will continue its successful progress."

Elstein is said to be exercising contractual share options thought to be worth several million pounds.

I promise Channel 5 will not lose its characteristics of opportunism, dynamism and fun

Dawn Airey
New chief executive
He joined the station seven months before it launched in March 1997 and has taken it to its current position, with 6% of the UK's TV audience.

Ms Airey, 39, has been director of programmes at Channel 5 since February 1996 and previously held senior positions at ITV and Channel 4 where she was in charge of shows like The Big Breakfast, Drop The Dead Donkey and Don't Forget Your Toothbrush.

She said: "David has secured his place in broadcasting history by establishing and creating the success that Channel 5 has achieved against all odds.

"I'm honoured to be leading the company into its next stage, where we have to consolidate and build on the considerable successes we have already achieved.

"I promise Channel 5 will not lose its characteristics of opportunism, dynamism and fun."

The channel has been criticised for its reliance on racy output with late-night adult movies and documentaries.

Dawn Airey
Dawn Airey: Rising star in TV industry
It received further criticism for broadcasting the UK's first all-nude gameshow this summer, starring Keith Chegwin.

Clive Hollick, chief executive of United News & Media, a major Channel 5 shareholder, said: "David has done a first rate job at Channel 5.

"He has masterminded the launch of probably the most successful new TV channel in Britain and made a huge contribution to the development of British broadcasting."

Channel 5 now reaches 84% of UK homes, with some 20 million now able to receive it.

Forty million people tune in each month and last Sunday saw the channel's best Sunday performance, with a 9.2% share of the audience, according to estimates.

Director of sales at the station, Nick Milligan, has been appointed deputy chief executive.

See also:

14 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Channel 5's naked ambition
17 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Xena gets the axe
12 Oct 00 | Entertainment
TV adopts ethnic plan
18 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Nude game show 'in good taste'
08 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Naked Chegwin show sparks debate
28 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Channel 5 cleans up its act
13 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Channel 5 criticised in Commons
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