Five’s digital plans on hold

Five is yet to decide if it will make any changes to its digital strategy after new owner Richard Desmond’s management shake-up last week.

Channel Five

Desmond’s cuts will see the departure of seven board directors and more than a quarter of Five’s 300-strong employees axed.

A spokesman said digital plans will be discussed but only once the structural changes are finalised.

Desmond’s Northern & Shell has pledged to invest £1.5bn in Five – which will be returned to its original launch brand of Channel 5 – over the next five years.

The redundancies form part of Northern & Shell’s plans for £20m cost savings across the business.

Five chairman and CEO Dawn Airey is one of those to depart, along with director of programmes Richard Woolfe, MD Mark White and director of corporate affairs Sue Robertson.

Director of strategy Charles Constable, finance director David Hockley, director of legal affairs and company secretary Paul Chinnery are also leaving the broadcaster.

Airey is understood to have been asked to stay at Five but has chosen to take a senior role with its former owner RTL. She will, however, remain to help integrate the business with Northern & Shell.

Jeff Ford, MD of digital channels, and sales director Kelly Williams will remain, with Ford taking over Woolfe’s responsibilities.

The management cull came three weeks after Desmond bought Five from TalkbackThames owner RTL for £103.5m.

He’s also keen to return the broadcaster to Project Canvas, the BBC-led IPTV joint venture that will bring video-on-demand to Freeview and Freesat, due to launch next year.

Five has struck an agreement with Facebook to embed its video-on-demand player within the social network.

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