BBC3 taps Cohen controller

Will head digital youth channel

BBC3 has wooed E4 boss Danny Cohen to serve as its new controller, the channel said Tuesday. He replaces Julian Bellamy, who returned this year to Channel 4 to take the commercial broadcaster's top post.

Cohen, who as head of E4 commissioned controversial youth fare like teen sex and angst drama "Skins," will head the BBC's digital youth channel with an eye to making it more relevant to teens and young adults. Former BBC3 head Stuart Murphy left the broadcaster last year for a role in the independent production sector.

BBC director of television Jana Bennett said Cohen will help grow BBC3's profile.

"He's someone who absolutely understands what young adults are looking for and will bring his flair for innovation to his commissions across all genres," she said. "Danny's knowledge and impressive track record will continue to strengthen BBC3 as it grows in reach and approval."

Cohen said he was sad to leave Channel 4 after a seven-year stretch but was "excited" by the new challenges. "I've had a fantastic seven years at Channel 4 and am very grateful to (director of television) Kevin Lygo and (head of More 4) Peter Dale for all the opportunities they have given me," Cohen said. "But this is a hugely exciting new challenge, and I can't wait to get started."

Cohen said he will use his new role at BBC3 to help it "play a central role" in the debate about what public value means for young audiences.

Cohen was appointed head of E4 and head of Channel 4 factual entertainment in 2006 and during his time at Channel 4 commissioned "Skins," "Supernanny," "The Trial of Tony Blair" and "Cutting Edge."