Channel Five sees top level clear-out as new owner promises investment

Channel Five chief executive Dawn Airey and the station's programme boss are to leave following media magnate Richard Desmond's takeover.

The channel also confirmed yesterday that it will also shed between 60 and 80 jobs from its 300-strong workforce.

Ms Airey, director of programmes Richard Woolfe and managing director Mark White are among several senior executives who will leave in the coming months.

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Mr Desmond's company Northern & Shell also announced plans for 1.5bn of investment in the channel over the next five years.

This is said to involve "a focus of resources on programme and content development".

Ms Airey will remain for several months and is leaving to take up a senior role at the RTL Group, Five's former owner.

The top level clear-out is the first major move since Mr Desmond bought the channel last month from RTL for 103.5m.

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Ms Airey will continue in her role for the time being "to facilitate the implementation of a cost-efficiency programme" which aims to return the firm to profitability.

She said: "The day Five was sold, my job was done. I will be returning to the RTL Group but over the next few months will remain in post with a number of my senior colleagues to facilitate the integration of Five into Northern & Shell."

Other departures include strategy director Charles Constable, and corporate affairs director Sue Robertson who leave at the end of this month.

Mark White, finance director David Hockley, legal director Paul Chinnery, and HR head Natasha Adams will go two months later.

Northern & Shell said spending 300m a year over the next five years would "see the channel go toe-to-toe with the biggest players in the TV world".

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