Ian Katz Named Chief Content Officer, ‘Bake Off’ Exec Sarah Lazenby Leaves in Channel 4 Restructuring

U.K. public broadcaster Channel 4 has rung in management structure changes as the organization prepares for its Future4 strategy that was revealed in November.

In commissioning, all of Channel 4’s creative and editorial decision making across linear, streaming and social will be brought together under director of programs Ian Katz, who is now chief content officer.

The org’s features commissioning responsibilities will be moved to the U.K. nations and regions, boosting the content spend and commissioning power outside London. With this move, head of features and format, Sarah Lazenby, who commissioned hit show “The Great British Bake Off,” is leaving Channel 4 after nearly six years. The existing formats and features slate will be distributed across other departments, including factual entertainment, entertainment and features and daytime — including responsibility for More4 commissioning — which will be led by Jo Street.

The vacant role of head of specialist factual will not be filled, with Danny Horan continuing to take responsibility for all factual programming across documentaries and specialist factual.

Kiran Nataraja, currently head of portfolio management, and Emma Hardy, head of commissioning management, will now take on broader roles, absorbing some responsibilities from Kelly Webb Lamb, who will be leaving later this year.

Nataraja will become director of content strategy & planning, combining her existing responsibilities for content investment, planning and scheduling across linear and streaming with the new addition of acquisitions. Nick Lee, currently head of series acquisitions, will become head of acquisitions & international and will move from commercial affairs to report into Nataraja, who is also responsible for all content planning for All 4.

Emma Hardy will become director of commissioning operations and will be recruiting for a new role of head of indie relations.

Head of entertainment, Phil Harris, will now report directly to Katz alongside all the genre commissioning heads — head of factual entertainment, Alf Lawrie; head of features & daytime, Jo Street; head of factual, Danny Horan; head of news, current affairs & sport, Louisa Compton; head of drama, Caroline Hollick; and head of comedy, Fiona McDermott.

Karl Warner will become head of youth & digital, will also be responsible for 4Music and the Box channels, and will recruit for a new head of digital commissioning role.

Katz said: “As we shift our focus to digital viewing, we need a structure which allows us to make joined-up decisions about all platforms and all types of content, originated and acquired, in the round. These changes will help us to do that and I hope they’ll also make us a simpler and speedier creative partner to work with.”

Sarah Lazenby said: “From putting the madhatter that is Noel into the ‘Bake Off’ tea party, to launching the nation’s favourite consumer warrior Joe Lycett, all via some atmospheric shows like ‘Flirty Dancing’ and ‘Art Club,’ I’ve loved the opportunity to work with some exceptional talent and curate some innovative and joyful formats around them. I look forward to the next creative adventure.”

“Sarah is a singular creative force who has had an extraordinary impact on Channel 4, from her brilliant stewardship of “The Great British Bake Off” to her championing of noisy and mischievous shows like ‘Mums Make Porn’ and ‘Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back,’” Katz added. “She is a hugely original thinker with a capacity to raise the energy level in any room she enters, and she will be hugely missed both at the channel and on all the productions she has lovingly shepherded onto the screen. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Elsewhere in Channel 4, viewer and customer activity will be brought together within an expanded marketing and viewer experience division under chief marketing officer and Zaid Al-Qassab. Chief product officer, Dave Cameron and the All 4 Product team will move to report into this expanded division. Channel 4 will be recruiting for a new marketing director and a communications director, reporting into Al-Qassab.

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said: “To deliver our Future4 strategy we need to adapt and innovate in the way we are organized as a business. The changes we’re announcing today give Channel 4 a clearer and simplified structure and will enable us to accelerate our focus on digital, put viewers at the heart of our decision making and will also ensure we become even more agile and responsive in the way we operate with all our stakeholders and partners, particularly those in the production sector.”

Meanwhile, director of communications and corporate Affairs James MacLeod has decided to leave Channel 4 after nine years.

Chief executive Alex Mahon will have six direct reports comprising the org’s CEO Committee: chief operating officer, Jonathan Allan and chief content officer, Ian Katz, who both sit on the Channel 4 Board; as well as chief marketing officer, Zaid Al-Qassab; chief revenue officer, Verica Djurdjevic; director of Film 4, Daniel Battsek; and director of commercial affairs, Martin Baker.

The org’s executive management board will include all the CEO Committee in addition to finance director, Vince Russell; managing director, nations & regions, Sinead Rocks; chief product officer, Dave Cameron; director of strategy & consumer insight, Khalid Hayat; director of people, Kirstin Furber and director of communications, James MacLeod.

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