Media Lifeline: Dawn Airey

The television veteran has retained her ability to stun with her career decisions over the past 20 years.

1989: Having graduated from Girton College, Cambridge, and Harvard Business School, Dawn Airey had joined Central (the ITV network company serving the Midlands) as a management trainee in 1985. By 1989, she is in charge of programme planning and has joined the board.

1994: Power in the ITV network had begun centralising into a formal Network Centre structure - and, in 1993, Airey becomes its controller of children's and daytime programmes. But she moves in 1994 to Channel 4 as its controller, arts and entertainment.

2000: Again, her tenure proves relatively shortlived - in 1996, she had jumped ship to become the director of programmes on the launch team (it made its debut in 1997) of what was then called Channel 5 - and she becomes notorious for her "films, fucking and football" programme policy. In 2000, on David Elstein's departure, she succeeds him as the chief executive.

2003: She joins Sky Networks as its managing director, responsible for non-sports programming and ad revenue. In 2006, she becomes managing director, channels and services. She resigns in 2007 to join a multimedia start-up called Iostar. Yet she stays only eight days, quitting because she claims she has been misled about its funding. Within weeks, she has landed the job of managing director, global content at ITV.

2008: She stays just eight months and resigns to return to the role of chief executive at five, ousting the incumbent, Jane Lighting, who was unaware a plot was afoot. Under her ITV contract, however, Airey won't be able to take up her new role until May 2009.

Fast forward ...

May 2009: Airey had been released early from her gardening leave, joining five back in January - and there is continuing speculation that she is working on a bid for ITV by five's parent company, RTL. But, yet again, she shows she's not lost her capacity to stun and amaze - announcing, in May (ironically, just days after her previously scheduled start date), that she is to join Channel 4 to help develop its children's programming.

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