Andy Duncan resigns as Channel 4 CEO

Has held the role since 2004, will leave by end of year

LONDON – Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan announced his resignation Wednesday morning, following a board meeting in which he told Channel 4 bosses that he would leave the broadcaster before the year-end.

The move brings to an end Duncan's five-year tenure atop the broadcaster behind such shows as "Death of a President" and multi Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire," and marks a likely end to merger talks between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide that had been under discussion for almost a year.

It also mean that Channel 4 will be without a chairman and a chief executive by the end of the year, when current chairman Luke Johnson steps down, with speculation that ITV director of channels Peter Fincham, Talkback Thames chief executive Lorraine Heggessey, Channel 4 director of programs Kevin Lygo and BBC director of vision Jana Bennett could all pitch for the CEO job.

Duncan, who said that under his watch Channel 4 had "punched well above our weight" and had "out-performed our immediate rivals both creatively and commercially," had spent much of his tenure arguing for more public support and financial intervention to bolster the broadcaster's unique and independent programming voice.

But the collapse of the financial markets and its decimating impact on the commercial sector as a whole undermined Channel's 4's individual financial arguments and the financing support has not been forthcoming.

In recent years Channel 4 has redrawn its programming strategy, backing away from costly acquisitions like "Lost" and focusing instead on creating the highly original and ground-breaking shows like English civil war drama "The Devil's Whore" and factual content like "Undercover Mosque."

Duncan, who is due to speak at the Royal Television Society's Cambridge Conference Thursday, has been bogged down in speculation that he planned to quit the broadcaster for months, despite rejecting suggestions he was preparing to quit as recently as two weeks ago.

Channel 4 did not give details of his financial settlement, but the pay-off is rumored to exceed $932,000 not including pension benefits.

Duncan said in a statement that he had been considering his position since the summer.

"My intention in announcing my decision in advance is to ensure a period of stable leadership, which will allow the board to proceed with recruiting my successor in parallel with Ofcom's appointment of a new chairman. I hope that clarifying my intentions will allow everyone at Channel 4 to get on with the job at hand without the distracting speculation of recent weeks."