Having recently lost chief executive Mark Thompson, poached by the BBC to become its director general [WAMN: 24-May-04], commercial broadcaster Channel 4 has now filled the vacant chair.

In a piquant retaliation, it has filched high profile BBC marketing director Andy Duncan -- the first C4 ceo to hail from a non-TV production background. Prior to his stint with the state-owned broadcaster, Duncan worked in brand marketing at Unilever.

Despite his lack of broadcast experience, however, Duncan was much lauded for his part in the runaway success of the BBC's Freeview digital TV service -- a significant factor in his selection for the job, according to C4 chairman Luke Johnson.

"Unquestionably one of Andy's first tasks will be to address [C4's] digital strategy," says Johnson. "He is closely associated with the first effective response by the UK broadcasting industry to BSkyB's subscription dominance of multi-channel TV."

Another factor that helped propel Duncan into the C4 hotseat is that his skills don't replicate those of Kevin Lygo, Channel 4's director of programmes.

"We didn't feel it was appropriate to duplicate the skills that Kevin has with another programme maker ... a brand specialist like Andy at the helm will offer us a competitive advantage in … a noisy and over-crowded marketplace," Johnson continued.

The eulogy reached its climax with a burst of buzzwords: "[Duncan] combines genuine public service credentials with a strategic understanding of how digital media is developing," quoth Johnson.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff