Media Lifeline: Dawn Airey

The Channel 5 chief, who has spent recent years going from one broadcaster to the next, is on the move again.

2000: Having joined Central as a trainee in 1985, Dawn Airey had worked her way up to become the head of children's programming at ITV, then jumped ship to become the controller of arts and entertainment at Channel 4. Then came, arguably, her most inspired move, joining Channel 5 as the director of programmes in the run-up to its launch. She made the next step, up to chief executive of the channel, in 2000.

2002: In 2002, Airey becomes the managing director of Sky Networks, with a brief to develop new entertainment channels to sit alongside Sky One. She eventually succeeds in amending her job title to managing director, channels and services.

2007: And then, after more than four years, comes a royal rollercoaster of a year. She stuns BSkyB by announcing she's off to become the chief executive of Iostar, a media investment company - but resigns within days of joining when she discovers that the company doesn't have the funding it thought it had. However, she's rescued by the new ITV boss, Michael Grade, who takes her on board as the network's managing director, global content.

2008: So Grade is surprised when, less than a year later, Airey announces that she's to rejoin Five as its chief executive. Her timing seems awful. There had been speculation that the channel, now backed by the European broadcasting powerhouse RTL, was set to become a truly dynamic force in British broadcasting - but the downturn hits Five hard and it's soon apparent that RTL (now facing "unsustainable" UK losses) is looking to bale out.

2010: And the channel's new owner, Richard Desmond, is no knight in shining armour, nor is he riding to Airey's rescue. He reveals plans to cut 80 jobs (more than 20 per cent of the existing workforce). Airey accepts a job with Channel 5's former owner RTL.

Fast forward ...

2014: As the head of international content development for RTL, Airey becomes renowned for a magical new programming genre - contemporary drama infused with the dreamlike atmosphere of European fairytale, often featuring clever yet unconventional women whose triumphs come in poignantly ambiguous guises. Ironically, however, she wins an Emmy for a revival of the German hit show Der Preis Ist Heiss.

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