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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Channel 5 chief poached by BSkyB
Dawn Airey
Airey's move has yet to be confirmed
Dawn Airey, the chief executive of Channel 5, has been poached by rival BSkyB.

The move which has surprised many industry insiders, is believed to show that the satellite broadcaster is serious about improving its programme content.

Ms Airey is credited with turning around Channel 5 and recently turned down an offer from ITV.

ITV is now said to be making overtures to Pinewood Studios boss Michael Grade for the post of Director of Channels.

On Monday the Guardian newspaper reported ITV sources as saying that Mr Grade, 59, was interested in the post.

Channel 5 launched five years ago, and has since built a solid audience share of 6.5% with Ms Airey at the helm.

Earlier this month, the channel posted half-yearly results showing it was near to breaking even.

Revenues were up 15.2% to 76.39m for the first six months of the year, while losses at the channel were back cut significantly, leaving it just 1.89m away from break-even.

The channel is owned by RTL, Europe's largest television group and is controlled by Germany's Bertelsmann group.

Ms Airey is expected to become the managing director of the Sky network, reporting directly to Chief Executive Tony Ball, sources said.

Spokesmen for Channel 5 and Sky declined comment.

See also:

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