BBC grabs Five program chief Hunt


LONDON -- The BBC has hired Jay Hunt, the Five channel's head of programs, to be the next controller of BBC1, director of vision Jana Bennett said Monday.

Hunt, who was the BBC's controller of daytime and access primetime programming until six months ago, when she departed for Five, initially turned down the job but was convinced by BBC bosses that it was a "once in a lifetime" chance, insiders said.

"Controller of BBC1 has always been my dream job," Hunt said. "Ultimately, I could not resist the opportunity to take on such a creatively exciting role. ... It has been an incredibly difficult decision to leave my talented team at Five, but I could not turn down the best job in television."

Bennett said Hunt has "impeccable credentials as a commissioner, channel leader and journalist" as well as a "deep commitment" to the BBC's core values.

"I am really pleased to welcome Jay back to the BBC to take up the reins of the U.K.'s most popular channel and the BBC's flagship channel," Bennett said.

Hunt will have to raise morale at a channel that has been buffeted by the furor of the so-called Crowngate affair, which led to the resignation of her predecessor, Peter Fincham, as well as a severe cost-cutting program across all programming genres.

Confidence in the U.K.'s leading broadcaster also was hit hard by the premium phone-in scandal that hit leading BBC1 programs, including "Comic Relief" and "Children in Need."