Colin Grimshaw, deputy editor of Media Week
Colin Grimshaw, deputy editor of Media Week
A view from Colin Grimshaw

Could this move be the Dawn of new hope for Five?

A decade after its creation, it has become common for media pundits to pose the question: "What is the point of Five?" and then fail to come up with an answer.

TV buyers like to use it as a stick with which to sporadically beat up ITV, but few would care a hoot if the channel closed tomorrow.

From what was hardly a position of strength, the Five franchise is getting weaker.

Commercial impacts fell 11% in 2007, inflating prices, which created a challenging sales proposition in 2008 for a channel whose USP is cheap airtime.

The addition of Neighbours to the main channel's schedule has been a boost, but the axing of Five Life after only 18 months (to be replaced by the just as unconvincing Fiver) has cast fresh doubts over its digital ambitions.

So, it does make you wonder whether Dawn Airey has lost her sanity.

On the face of it, the old adage: "never go back" couldn't be more apt in the case of the former Five chief executive who left in search of bigger pastures five years ago.

If her mental faculties are still intact, you have to assume that she has extracted cast-iron promises from Five's parsimonious owner, RTL, that attitudes to funding its UK outpost are going to change.

Some have linked Airey's defection from ITV to Five, to reports of a potential RTL bid for ITV, but they are wide of the mark.

Airey has been brought in to shore up Five, which could be left in a parlous position if it doesn't have a coherent strategy for the post-digital switchover era.

If Airey gets the money - its programming budget is currently a third of Channel 4's - then there is still hope for Five. RTL owns Fremantle and talkbackThames, makers of much of ITV's programming, including The X Factor.

If she can persuade them to give Five first look at some of their new output, then Five could have some successful hits of its own to spread across its family of channels, and not be reliant on a few imports, such as CSI.

And it could bolster its sales inventory by putting together a sales house giant, comprising Five, IDS and Discovery, to compete with ITV and C4.

Don't bet against Sky Media chief Nick Milligan rejoining his old mate Airey to enact this part of the strategy.