Richard Eyre, the former chief executive of ITV, has resigned from
RTL Group, just 15 months after joining the European media giant as
director of strategy and content.
Eyre has no immediate job to go to, although a number of companies have
recently approached him. It is thought that he is considering taking a
sabbatical to write a book.
Eyre will remain at RTL, which is the majority shareholder in Channel 5,
until the end of this month before handing over to Tony Cohen, the
worldwide chief executive of production at RTL and head of Pearson TV in
the US. RTL's managing director, Bruno Chauvat, will take on strategic
His departure will not come as a shock to the media industry. Observers
have for some time suggested that he was frustrated by his role, which
changed only two months after he joined Pearson as head of TV. Pearson,
which has a 22 per cent stake in RTL, decided to combine its TV assets
with those of CLT-Ufa last March to form RTL. There were rumours last
year that he was also set to become chairman of Channel 5, but United
Business Media, which has a stake in the terrestrial TV channel, blocked
In a statement, Eyre said: 'The business logic for the merger of Pearson
Television and the CLT/Ufa was compelling and the RTL Group now has one
of the world's leading content businesses and is well positioned for
growth. This was one of my primary tasks and, now it is complete, I have
chosen to take the opportunity to think radically about my next
Eyre has had a high profile in the broadcast industry and was a
contender for the BBC director-general's job, which went to Greg Dyke.
Industry sources believe Eyre will make a second attempt to secure the
post once Dyke's term is up.
RTL announced its preliminary results on Wednesday which saw the
company's pretax profits decline more than 50 per cent to pounds 184
million in 2000. This was due to restructuring and expansion costs.
RTL's chief executive, Didier Belens, predicted a flat earnings
performance this year.