Campaign Media Awards 2005: Media Achiever of the Year - Andy Duncan

When Andy Duncan was announced as Channel 4's chief executive in July 2004, it was pointed out that he lacked programming experience. On the other hand, former colleagues and commentators praised the move, saying he would bring the right blend of commercial, management and strategic skills required to guide the broadcaster through one of the most challenging periods in its history. However, while 2005 has seen Duncan's appointment vindicated, even his biggest supporters would be surprised at his successes after just 18 months in the hotseat.

When Duncan's predecessor, Mark Thompson, left Channel 4 to join the BBC as its new director-general, he left the broadcaster in good shape, but it was not without its problems. With programmes such as Big Brother, popular US imports and innovative offerings such as Channel 4 News, Thompson had built a broadcaster that was attracting advertiser-friendly, upmarket 16- to 34-year-olds to its programmes and services.

But despite these solid foundations, Duncan faced - and still does - an uphill struggle as the channel faces a doomsday scenario over the next decade. Its audience share - and the ad revenue that funds its public service programming - will be divided between a merged and more aggressive ITV, a BBC likely to get its licence fee renewed for a further ten years, BSkyB and other multichannel broadcasters. In this ever-more crowded and cut-throat TV market, Duncan has managed to turn 2005 into a vintage year for the broadcaster.

In May, Channel 4 posted a 34 per cent profit increase, which Duncan vowed to plough back into programming. Under his leadership, the programme budget for the core Channel 4 service has been raised to a record £500 million. As a result, it has been the only terrestrial network to increase its share of peaktime viewing so far this year.

The omens are looking good, with industry analysts tipping Channel 4 to overtake BBC2 in annual ratings for the first time since 1994. At the same time, advertising revenue for Channel 4 is forecast to be 5 per cent ahead of 2004 at £710 million, compared with 3 per cent growth for the TV ad market overall.

Duncan has a firm eye on the future of Channel 4 and its growing role in ensuring strong, future PSB competition to the BBC. As the Government scrutinises the BBC's application to get its licence fee funding mechanism renewed with a new ten-year charter, Duncan has highlighted a projected shortfall in Channel 4's finances. With a large number of ministers raising concerns about extra public funding, stating the broadcaster's case sooner rather than later, while also outlining possible remedies, will help win favour.

Duncan has overseen a substantial shift in Channel 4's multichannel strategy, with the launch of E4 on the Freeview platform and the transformation of More4 from a low-budget repeats channel to an ambitious digital public service channel with a £33 million budget. E4's launch on Freeview has helped the channel increase its share of total viewing in digital homes by 25 per cent, while also boosting its share of 16-34 viewing by the same proportion.

2005 has seen Channel 4 embrace new media possibilities in another move designed to shore up its future. New offerings include the broadband documentary channel 4Docs, the music website Slash Music, and a mobile portal enabling users to access Channel 4 shows.

Programming highlights include some of the most written-about and must-see TV shows of the year. Jamie's School Dinners was both entertaining and ambitious, carrying a strong social agenda that prompted a change in government policy on nutrition for the nation's children. Lost has become this year's water-cooler show, managing to both beguile and baffle viewers in equal measure. Desperate Housewives has reinforced the broadcaster's reputation for quality US imports and A Very Social Secretary proved it is equally adept at hard-hitting social satire.

Duncan joins an impressive list of past Campaign media achievers. Simon Kelner, the editor of The Independent, won last year, and Tony Ball, the chief executive and managing director of BSkyB, romped home in 2003.

CV 2004 - present chief executive, Channel 4 2003 - 2004 director of marketing, communications and audiences, BBC 2002 - 2004 chairman, Freeview (while at the BBC) 2001 - 2003 director of marketing and communications, BBC 1999 - 2001 European board director/general manager, food and beverages division, Unilever 1995 - 1999 board director, Van Den Bergh/Brooke Bond Foods, Unilever 1989 - 1995 Brooke Bond Foods, Unilever 1984 - 1989 Elida Gibbs, Unilever PREVIOUS WINNERS 2004 Simon Kelner 2003 Tony Ball 2002 David Yelland 2001 Michael Jackson 2000 Caroline Marland 1999 Marjorie Scardino 1998 David Elstein


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