David Abraham named CEO of Channel 4

Takes up position vacated in November by Andy Duncan

LONDON -- Channel 4 has named UKTV chief executive and former Discovery Europe head of networks David Abraham to be its new chief executive.

The appointment comes from a shortlist thought to include Channel 4's director of programming Kevin Lygo, former BBC2 controller Jane Root and Talkback Thames chief executive Lorraine Heggessey.

Abraham -- who has successfully re-branded such UKTV channels as Dave, Blighty, Alibi and Yesterday since joining the BBC/Virgin Media library channel joint venture in 2007 -- is a surprise choice to lead the government-owned broadcaster, since he lacks both the public service programming credentials and production and commissioning background that a number of the other candidates had.

But he was described as "outstanding" by incoming Channel 4 chairman Terry Burns, who said Abraham -- who comes from an advertising background -- was a talented creative and commercial manager.

"David is a rare commodity as a broadcaster in that he has an exceptional track record as an innovative leader," said Burns.

"At all stages of his career he's led creative teams and commissioned creative output of the highest quality in a commercial environment. It is that experience, we believe, that so well qualifies him for the challenge of running a commercially funded, public service broadcaster like Channel 4," the chairman added.

Abraham will face a full in-tray when he takes up the post, including deciding on the extend of a possible partnership between Channel 4 and the BBC's commercial division BBC Worldwide, which had faltered under former Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan.

Abraham will stand down as UKTV chief executive to join the broadcaster in the coming weeks and has promised to bring "idealism, versatility and a record of leading creative organizations through change."

Before joining Channel 4 he was formerly the London-based Discovery Europe head of networks before moving to work for the factual broadcaster in the U.S.

He moved into TV management after a career in advertising, where he was a co-founder of the influential ad agency St Luke's.