David Abraham, who transformed the reputation of the broadcaster UKTV with the marketing slogan "Everybody knows a bloke called Dave", was yesterday revealed as the new chief executive of Channel 4.
A co-founder of the groundbreaking advertising agency St Luke's, Mr Abraham, 46, has held senior positions in broadcasting at the Discovery network and at UKTV, where he was appointed chief executive in 2007 and has overseen the rebranding of its portfolio, with channels being given names such as Dave, Blighty, Eden and Alibi. The renaming of the G2 channel as Dave, aimed primarily at men, brought in 8 million viewers and was widely admired within the industry.
Mr Abraham must now work with newly appointed chairman Lord Burns to manage Channel 4 in an uncertain period, beyond the next election and the switch-off of the analogue signal in 2012. The broadcaster has already expressed its intention to undergo "the biggest creative transformation" in its history following the removal from the schedules of the reality show Big Brother later this year.
Mr Abraham, who is said to have been appointed because of his mix of creative and commercial skills, is the first of Channel 4's six chief executives not to have previously worked at the BBC. His appointment comes in spite of pressure on the broadcaster to choose its first female chief executive.
"I look forward to leading the whole organisation through its next period of growth and innovation, both creatively and commercially," he said. "What I bring ... is idealism, versatility and a record of leading creative organisations through change."
In an attempt to demonstrate frugality, Channel 4 will pay Mr Abraham a salary of £490,000, with no incentive bonuses. His predecessor, Andy Duncan, received £580,000 and claimed nearly £700,000 in bonuses during his last four years. The appointment is a disappointment for Channel 4's director of television, Kevin Lygo, who was considered for the role and whose future at the channel is not clear.