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LONDON — In a surprise move, Channel Five chief executive Dawn Airey will rejoin the broadcaster in October, RTL CEO Gerhard Zeiler said Tuesday as he announced the Pan-European broadcaster’s financial results.
Airey’s return will end a period of limbo for the terrestrial network, which has been without a chief executive for three months.
She had widely been expected to be held to a year’s “gardening leave” by ITV executive chairman Michael Grade, who was reputedly furious at her decision to quit less than 12 months after he hired her to the high-profile ITV role of head of global production.
The earlier-than-expected return will surprise Five insiders, who had been planning for a May 2009 arrival by Airey.
Under the terms of her ITV contract, Five staff have not been allowed to contact Airey while she remains officially an ITV employee.
Five’s former chief executive Jane Lighting and her deputy Lisa Opie both resigned shortly after the news of Airey’s appointment was leaked to the press.
Airey, who will return to Five as chairman and chief executive, will be returning to her programming roots. She was head of programs and then chief executive at Five, before moving to BSkyB in 2002.
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