Richard Eyre quits RTL Group after 15 months

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

responsibilities.



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

this move.



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

steps.'



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.



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