Patricia Hodgson likely to fill Channel 4 chair

Announcement expected within the next few days

LONDON -- BBC Trust executive and former media content regulator Patricia Hodgson is thought to be the favored candidate to become chair of Channel 4, sources close to the process said Tuesday.

A decision on who will next head the broadcaster could be announced within the next few days. Hodgson and a number of senior U.K. media and business executives were interviewed for the post last week.

Channel 4's current chief executive Andy Duncan and chairman Luke Johnson are both leaving the broadcaster at the end of the year.

Neither Hodgson nor Zygos, the headhunting firm overseeing the appointment process, could be reached for comment.

Other candidates are thought to include former ITV executive Richard Eyre and former BBC director general Greg Dyke.

Hodgson, who was head of the content regulator the Independent Television Commission in the late nineties, was responsible for overseeing the change in the terms of trade for Channel Four, which eventually lead to a surge in value for the U.K. independent production sector.

A longtime BBC executive and policy maker, Hodgson is currently a key member of the BBC's oversight and governance panel, the BBC Trust, and has consistently fought the idea of so-called "top-slicing" the BBC's license fee - in effect giving a chunk of the BBC's annual £3.6 billion ($5.9 billion) annual income to shore up the finances of such broadcasters as Channel 4.

But if she took the role of Channel 4 chair, she may have to take an opposing view.

Hodgson's departure from the BBC could also open the way for the BBC Trust to look at an exit route from some of its commercial businesses, including a possible sale of its program licensing and global channels business BBC Worldwide, which runs BBC America.

The next chair of Channel 4 will have a full "in" tray for the first few months and will have to oversee the appointment of a new Channel 4 chief executive as well as have to negotiate on behalf of the broadcaster across a range of commercial partnerships before a CEO can be hired.
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