Chairman: Russ Lindsay
Chairman: Russ Lindsay
With the increase in technological developments and new media, broadcasting executives have worked hard to keep up with modern advances and to make use of them to enhance the viewer’s experience. With many of the major television channels offering multi-platform, HD and even 3D broadcasts, audiences have access to an experience that was not available 15 years ago. And radio is not being left behind; with podcasts and live streaming through the internet proving popular with audiences. The Debrett’s list focusses on the executives in television and radio broadcasting, who are influencing the direction of broadcasting across all mediums.
Russ Lindsay co-founded James Grant Media in 1984. The company's first signing was Phillip Schofield, who is still with the company after 30 years. Russ has managed many of the UK's top television and sports personalities over the years including Simon Cowell and Ant & Dec, he has also produced the majority of James Grant Media's music, theatre and television productions. He left James Grant in April 2013 and set up Infinity Creative Media to work alongside the UK’s top production companies and broadcasters, creating and co-developing television formats and media business ventures.
Adam Crozier. CEO ITV plc.
According to Adam Crozier, the CEO of ITV plc, “I wasn’t someone who knew what they wanted to do, other than have a career in business. But I quickly realised that what I enjoyed doing was taking on jobs where there were real problems.” Assuming the five-year position in January 2010, Crozier has transformed the failing broadcaster. When Crozier became CEO, the company had a £1 billion debt and was clawing its way back from a £2.7 billion loss. Making £384 million in profits last year, the channel has become debt free with Crozier at the helm. Programmes such as Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey have also boosted the broadcaster’s fortunes. Crozier’s successful strategy has transformed the once-fading broadcasting company.
Jeremy Darroch. CEO British Sky Broadcasting Group.
Appointed as the CEO of the British Sky Broadcasting Group plc in 2007, the affable Jeremy Darroch is credited with taking subscribers to over 10 million in the UK, hitting his predecessor James Murdoch’s target a month early. Under Darroch’s stewardship, the broadcaster has expanded its scope to become the most comprehensive multi-platform television and home communications service in the UK and Ireland He has vowed to increase Sky’s spend on UK-originated content to £600 million by 2014. By the end of June 2013, Sky had increased its profits £1.26 billion up 5.7% that year with revenues up 7% to £7.2 billion.
Elisabeth Murdoch. Founder and chairman Shine Ltd.
The creative and talented Elizabeth Murdoch is the founder and chairman of Shine Ltd. Since founding Shine she has steered its growth from a single multi-genre independent production company to a multi-company production house spanning three continents. Whilst the company’s initial input may have been boosted by her family name, Murdoch has certainly proven her worth, independence and success through intelligent acquisitions and well-informed decisions. Although she sold Shine to News Corp in 2011 for £415 million Murdoch has retained her position as chairman. She sits on the board of directors of the UK Film Council and is a trustee of the Tate.
Danny Cohen. Director of television BBC.
As director of television at the BBC, Danny Cohen oversees all four of the BBC’s main TV channels along with BBC Films and the BBC archive. Cohen has an influential hand in the BBC’s digital content which is likely to play an even more significant role in the future of the BBC over time. He was formerly controller of BBC 1, the UK’s most watched channel, and BBC 3, which won Non-Terrestrial Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh TV Festival two years out of three. The BBC director general Lord Hall described Cohen as the “driving force behind a standout period in BBC 1’s history”.
Gavin Patterson. CEO BT Group plc.
Formerly the CEO of BT Retail, Gavin Patterson assumed the role of CEO of BT Group plc in September 2013. Attending Warrington Comprehensive before accepting his place at Cambridge to read chemical engineering, Patterson began his career at Procter and Gamble before moving to Telewest (now Virgin Media). Joining BT in 2004, the suave Liverpudlian is largely responsible for BT’s broadcasting debut, launching its sports broadcasting submissions with presenting talent Jake Humphreys and Clare Balding in 2013. In November 2013, Patterson secured the coveted UEFA Champions League Football contract beating chief rival BSkyB to the punch.
Ben McOwen Wilson. Head of content partnerships YouTube.
As head of content partnerships at YouTube, Ben McOwen Wilson is seen as an inspiration for the next frontier of broadcasting. He is renowned for his ability to spot new channels for the online content platform and investing in original content from established entertainers and producers. For example, in 2012, McOwen Wilson launched 60 new channels, such as the Jamie Oliver Food Channel, in order to boost original, on-demand content to the site. This battle plan attacks the traditional television outlets with the flexibility and freedom that the on-demand site offers. McOwen Wilson’s influence should not be underestimated.
Richard Desmond. Founder Northern & Shell.
Media mogul Richard Desmond first acquired his taste for business aged three, when his father lost his hearing. Desmond escorted his father to his meetings to act as his “ears”. Following this early induction to the working world, Desmond left school at the age of 15 and started work. Eight years later, Desmond founded his own company, Northern & Shell. The company has grown from a small enterprise to one of Britain’s primary independent media companies, with annual revenues close to £500 million. The business’s publishing portfolio includes the largest weekly magazine in the world, OK!, and The Express Newspapers. The company recently acquired Channel 5. With Desmond intending to work until he’s 90, Northern & Shell promises to progress even further.
John Willis. Chairman BAFTA.
As the recipient of four BAFTA nominations and one award, John Willis now holds the position of chairman of BAFTA. In this revered position, Willis heads an organisation with much influence, inspiration and authority over the arts. He is indisputably one of the best known faces in the television industry and also stands as chief executive of Mentorn Media, which produces various factual dramas for the BBC and is the team behind Question Time. Willis is also the group creative director of the international media producer and distributor, Tinopolis plc.
David Abraham. Chief executive Channel Four Television Corporation.
David Abraham is the chief executive of the Channel Four Television Corporation. The son of post-war immigrants to the UK, he was state educated and says he considers himself very lucky to have been offered a place at Oxford. In his role at Channel 4, Abraham is successfully focusing on targeting the digital arm of the company. He was previously chief executive of UKTV where he oversaw the re-branding of UKTV channels such as Dave, Gold, Yesterday and Blighty. The renaming of the G2 channel as Dave, aimed primarily at men, brought in eight million viewers and gained wide admiration in the industry.
Jay Hunt. Chief creative officer Channel 4.
Jay Hunt was selected for the role of chief creative officer, the top creative job, at Channel 4 in 2011. In this position, Hunt is tasked with the crucial job of generating ad revenues which form an integral part of the channel’s continued existence. Before this, Hunt held positions as controller of BBC One and director of programmes at Five. She is the only person to have been the creative head of BBC 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5. In 2013, she was assessed as being one of the most powerful women in the UK.
Denise O’Donoghue, OBE. Managing director ITV Studios.
BAFTA-winning television producer Denise O’Donoghue is the managing director of ITV studios where she exploits new opportunities to lead the expansion of the business in the UK and directs the channel’s commercial strategy. O’Donoghue is the co-founder and former joint managing director of Hat Trick Productions, working on shows such as Have I Got News For You, where she is recognised as establishing the company’s place in the UK and abroad. She was awarded an OBE in 1999 and was president of International Television Productions at NBC Studios between 2009 and 2010.
Stuart Murphy. Director of entertainment channels Sky.
As director of entertainment channels at Sky, Stuart Murphy oversees Sky1, Sky Living, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic channels. He is also responsible for the channel’s entertainment and commissioning portfolio. Murphy is currently tasked with boosting the appeal of Sky’s entertainment offerings and expanding consumer focus for the channel’s movie and sporting contributions. Murphy began his career as a tea boy at BBC Manchester and before accepting the role at Sky, he was the first controller of BBC 3. Murphy’s work has met great acclaim, bringing shows such as Alan Partridge and the multi-award winning Game of Thrones to Sky.
Peter Fincham. Director of television ITV.
Peter Fincham has been the director of television at ITV since 2008 and has been instrumental in the creative renaissance seen across ITV Drama and Entertainment. The likes of Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge, Britain’s Got Talent and Broadchurch have rejuvenated and altered public perception of the channel, which Fincham has overseen. He also gave ITV the go-ahead with their Jimmy Saville exposé. Formerly he was the controller for BBC 1 and an independent producer for Talkback where he made his name creating I’m Alan Partridge and Da Ali G show.
The Lord Hall of Birkenhead, CBE. Director general BBC.
Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, was approached directly by the BBC with the role of director general as he was regarded as the only man for the job. Hall began his career at the BBC around 40 years ago, progressing from the Belfast newsroom to director of news then head of current affairs. When he was not made director general in 1998, Hall became the chief executive of the Royal Opera House, a position he developed and dazzled in for twelve years. Having finally accepted his dream job at the head of the BBC, Hall is tasked with leading the broadcaster out of the crisis created by strikes and the Jimmy Saville scandal.
The Lord Patten of Barnes, CH, PC. Chairman BBC Trust.
Chris Patten, now Lord Patten of Barnes, was the first member of his family to go to university. He received an exhibition to study at Balliol College, Oxford, and upon graduating was offered a graduate traineeship with the BBC. He turned this down to go into politics. 45 years on, Patten was appointed by Queen-in-Council as chairman of the BBC Trust, bringing years of wisdom and public sector experience to the table from his life in politics, diplomacy and higher education. As chairman, Patten leads the trust in its custody of the public interest in the BBC.
Chris Evans. Television presenter and producer.
Chris Evan’s father died when he was 13, and he has described the tragedy as “the shotgun that started the race” as he became unrelenting in becoming a success. Evans regarded himself as the main breadwinner for the family: he won a place at the nearby grammar school and implemented various self-styled business plans in the newsagents where he worked, such as a private detective agency and kiss-o-gram. He began his professional radio career in 1983 and by 2000, Evans was the UK’s highest-paid entertainer. Since 2005, he has been a huge success with his drive time and breakfast shows on Radio 2. Evans is also a successful producer for radio and television.
Jane Tranter. Head BBC Worldwide Productions.
Jane Tranter is head of BBC Worldwide Productions, working with broadcasters, producers and talent to re-format British shows for the US and push for original content for both scripted and unscripted worldwide productions. Under Tranter’s command, BBC Worldwide Productions has grown from having just two shows on the air to more than 20 series in production. Previously, Tranter worked as controller of BBC Fiction in the UK where she was responsible for commissioning the BBC’s entire drama, comedy, motion picture and podgram acquisition. Tranter has commissioned some of the most successful British dramas of recent years such as Dr Who, Cranfield, Spooks and Bleak House.
Ben Cooper. Controller BBC Radio 1.
Ben Cooper became the controller for BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2011. He is responsible for revamping the station’s schedule and introducing the Radio 1 Teen Awards. Cooper took on the position at a challenging time in the 45-year history of Radio 1 having seen its audience figures plummet to below 10 million. Today, the station reaches over 12 million listeners per week. Cooper is particularly concerned with rejuvenating Radio 1’s audience, with a target listenership of 15-29 year olds, and is a driving force for the BBC in engaging with young people.
Richard Park. Group executive director and director of broadcasting Global Radio.
Richard Park is the group executive director and director of broadcasting for Global Radio. Park has an exceptional history of selecting radio talent and identifying the disc jockeys that have blazed a trail on UK radio. Park began his career as a pirate DJ on an off-shore radio station in Scotland and after progressing through the ranks, co-founded Global Radio. In August 2008, Park became group executive director and has been a source of power behind the network’s progression since this time. Alongside Ashley Tabor, the co-founder and executive of Global, Park is known as an expert selector, predictor and scheduler of music, identifying the songs that have become hits and anthems on UK radio.
Sophie Turner-Laing. Managing director of content Sky.
As a child, Sophie Turner-Laing and her sisters would put on plays for their parents. Foreshadowing her future executive career, Sophie was always the director. She would turn a profit charging the audience for biscuits that she had “borrowed” from the kitchen cupboards. But it was working with Jim Henson on The Muppets that she credits with influencing her career path, describing Henson as a “gentle creative genius” who knew how to get the best out of the talent he worked with. In her current role as managing director of content at Sky, the queen of content has overall responsibility for Sky’s entertainment and news channels. She oversaw the launch of Sky Atlantic and considers this to be one of her greatest achievements.