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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Hunt for Channel 4 head 'begins'
BBC Director of Television Mark Thompson
The BBC's Mark Thompson: A leading candidate
Channel 4 was expected to begin its hunt on Monday for a successor to Michael Jackson, chief executive of the channel, who is leaving for a post in the US.

Interviews are reported to begin this week for what is often called the best job in British TV.

Dawn Airey
Channel 5's Dawn Airey: Worked at C4 in past
The post is said to have attracted a number of strong candidates and Labour peer Lord Waheed Alli has emerged as a leading contender - though Endemol head Peter Bazalgette remains the bookies' favourite.

The process could be ratified by the next Channel 4 directors' meeting on 29 October, but it is unlikely that a final decision will be reached in time.

Contacts

Lord Alli's candidacy is favoured by those who believe that, with advertising revenues declining and commercial TV facing a tough future, Channel 4 needs a corporate boss with commercial know-how - rather than an "ideas" person.

Lord Alli, 36, has close links with New Labour and some feel his contacts would be useful in any future disagreements between Channel 4 and the Treasury - which is understood to be considering charging the TV station for the use of the airwaves.

Leading candidates
Lord Alli
Carlton Productions managing director
Peter Bazalgette
Endemol UK creative director
Mark Thompson
BBC director of television
Jane Root
BBC Two controller
Dawn Airey
Channel 5 chief executive
Peter Fincham
Talkback Productions manager
The peer set up the Planet 24 production company - which made The Word, TFI Friday and Don't Forget Your Toothbrush - and went on to head Carlton Productions.

Peter Bazalgette is the creative director of Endemol Entertainment, the company responsible for lifestyle hits like Changing Rooms, Ground Force and Big Brother.

Mr Bazalgette has piloted the independent TV company to success and is said to be a popular choice within Channel 4.

Serious contender

Two BBC figures feature in the shortlist, as reported by Media Guardian.

Mark Thompson, BBC director of TV, is seen as a serious contender, though some feel his lack of commercial TV experience may count against him.

Jane Root
Root: BBC Two head, but independent TV experience
And Jane Root, Controller of BBC Two, is seen as having had a successful tenure at the channel - and used to be joint manager of an independent production company, Wall To Wall.

Channel 5 chief executive Dawn Airey and Talkback Productions manager Peter Fincham are two more candidates seen as strong runners.

Others at longer odds include Telewest chief executive Adam Singer, Telewest broadband manager David Docherty, former Channel 5 head David Elstein and the boss of Australia's Channel Nine, David Leckie.

The post pays 536,000 per year.

See also:

15 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Michael Jackson: Media man
24 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
BBC man 'tipped' for Channel 4
23 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Michael Jackson quits Channel 4
14 May 01 | TV and Radio
Bafta triumph for Channel 4
01 May 01 | Business
Big Brother, Ali G boost C4 revenue
15 May 00 | Business
Channel 4 float 'scrapped'
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