Acquisitions chief heading back to Five

Dawn Airey taps Jeff Ford in managing director role

LONDON -- Incoming Five chief executive Dawn Airey has wooed Channel 4 head of acquisitions Jeff Ford to his old network as managing director of digital channels and acquisitions as well as a seat on the Five board.

The move signals that Airey plans a higher profile for U.S. programming on the terrestrial network.

Airey, who this week rejoined the network where she had been chief executive until 2003, told staff at a presentation that she would mount a restructuring exercise and cost-cutting program that would likely involve job cuts.

Ford, who moved from Five to Channel 4 four years ago, leaves a job that involves a significantly lower budget for acquisitions than when he first joined the network.

Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan and programming chief Kevin Lygo have sought to unwind the broadcaster's dependence on U.S. programming in favor of more locally commissioned and public-service fare.