HEADLINER: Business as usual on Four as old hand scores a promotion

Andy Barnes of Channel 4 goes for off-screen action, Eleanor Trickett discovers.

Everything they say about Andy Barnes is true (well, the bits about

Arsenal and the Gordon Gekko hairdo, anyway). Walk into his office and

nestling among photos of gorgeous offspring and wild parties is a

spangly postcard of the Gunners’ logo, beautifully offset by a gaudy

gilt frame.

’I don’t know why this Arsenal thing happened,’ he says. ’It’s an

obsession that gets worse as I get older. Arsenal never argues with me,

it’s always there when I need it.’ As Channel 4’s new director of

advertising sales and marketing, Barnes may find himself hugging his

beloved Arsenal even closer, particularly with his new boss, Michael

Jackson, at the helm.

Since Barnes joined the channel in 1991 as head of sales, he has had

free rein, pretty much, to shape the station into the slick, but edgy,

machine it is today. And, with the departure of his predecessor and

former boss Stewart Butterfield to Granada last week (Campaign, 18

July), Barnes’s promotion means he can really shake some leg.

Some argue, however, that Barnes has been shaking leg for years and his

job will be no different to what it was before.

Nick Milligan, sales director of Channel 5, says: ’This promotion is

long overdue, but largely cosmetic. Andy always has run the business and

done the sell.’

Nigel Sharrocks, outgoing managing director of Grey Advertising, adds:

’Without wanting to make Stewart Butterfield sound superfluous, I don’t

think we will see many changes at Channel 4.’

Barnes’s success has to be down to his drive and what Sharrocks

describes as ’his inquisitive mind. He catches people out by saying

’why’s that, then?’ when someone thinks they’ve stated the obvious.’

One source suggests Barnes has no need to take on a replacement for his

former role: ’It would be ludicrous for him to look for one.’ Barnes

unknowingly reflects this opinion when he says: ’It’s unlikely there

will be many changes in the structure here. Stewart was an excellent


As for filling the gap created by his elevation, he’s having a meeting

with the sales controllers ’sometime next week’.

Barnes claims he will miss Butterfield. ’I’ve only had two bosses: John

Fox at TVS and Stewart. I learned a lot from him, and lots of things

changed under him. And more changes are happening now Michael Jackson is

at the helm.’

Under Jackson, Barnes says, the concept of a multi-channel market will

take nothing away from Channel 4’s pulling power in terms of advertisers

and viewers.

’ITV’s decline is down to Sky 1 and Channel 5,’ he explains. ’They all

offer mass entertainment and will have to fight against each other even

more. Our gift is offering something very different. And, under Michael,

boundaries will be stretched even further.’

One thing Barnes plans to do is expand the channel off-screen. ’Channel

4 as a brand has phenomenal potential,’ he explains. ’Cutting Edge could

make a great magazine - it would be like masthead programming


I can also see the creation of a Channel 4 holiday package, sold from

our holiday programmes.’

One thing he won’t be doing in a hurry is advertiser-supplied

programming, such as Channel 4’s late-night series Passengers, made in

conjunction with Pepsi. ’We like to be in control, and there are too

many restrictions and trip wires with such a medium.’

Sponsored programmes, however, are as popular as ever. As Barnes says:

’The potential for sponsorship is boundless, as long as there is a

synergy between the brand. It’s very under-exploited.’

But what about recent carping that the channel is becoming too


’We buy the best of American,’ Barnes counters indignantly. ’How can

people criticise us for putting on shows such as Friends and Frasier?

Other channels can’t and won’t, because these shows still only attract

six or seven million viewers during peak time.’

So what is Barnes like? Answers contain phrases such as ’great bloke’,

’straight as they come’, ’passionate’ and the inevitable ’Arsenal


This is the man who stores his decades-old programmes in his spare


He is, in the words of Chris Boothby, broadcast director of BBJ Media

Services, ’boundlessly obsessive. We were at the Superbowl in Miami with

the beautiful people, and he strutted around wearing an Arsenal


Jonathan Durden, partner at New PHD, adds: ’He’s a merchandise


That weekend he bought 14 baseball caps.’ Another source describes his

aimless shopping: ’He just wanders around and buys.’ A far cry from his

activities at Channel 4, where he strides around and sells, sells,



1979 Graduate sales trainee, Southern TV

1984 London sales manager, TVS

1986 Deputy sales director, TVS

1991 Director, Laser Sales

1991 Head of sales and deputy director of ad sales and marketing,

Channel 4

1997 Director of ad sales and marketing, Channel 4

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