Following the appointment of five new non-executive directors to the Board of Channel 4 Television Corporation, Sir Ian Cheshire, Chair of the Channel 4 Board, was keen to clarify that while the appointments improve inclusivity on the board, they “do not yet meet the levels of representation throughout the rest of the organisation.”
In a statement, Sir Ian also made clear that “appointments to the board are not ultimately in our control”, as, under the Broadcasting Act 1990, this is the responsibility of the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom, with appointments approved by the Rt Hon Lucy Frazer MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Four of the new appointees - Dame Annette King, Tom Adeyoola, Debbie Wosskow OBE and Seb James - joined the board for a term of three years commencing 8th January, with Alex Burford starting in June 2024. Of the five new appointments, only Adeyoola is from an ethnic minority.
It has also been reported by Deadline that a minority ethnic woman had been blocked from joining Channel 4‘s board for a third time, without explanation. Former BBC executive Rozina Breen, now CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, had been put forward as a preferred candidate by Ofcom following a six-month recruitment process but was rejected by culture secretary Frazer.
In a message sent to all Channel 4 staff regarding the new appointments, Sir Ian said: “Our new board appointments will bring diverse perspectives and invaluable insight, as we continue to deliver our strategy and transform Channel 4 into a fully digital-first public service broadcaster.
“As you know, Alex (Mahon, CEO) and I have long championed having the right level of representation on Channel 4’s Board and our goal is for it to be in line with the organisation’s staff target of 20% ethnically diverse, 12% disability and 6% LBGTQ+. These appointments will improve representation on the Board but do not yet meet the levels of representation throughout the rest of the organisation. Appointments to the Board are not ultimately in our control due to procedural reasons but we are committed to continuing to push for further progress.
“Please join me in congratulating our new directors on joining Channel 4,” he said.
A DCMS spokesperson said: “DCMS is absolutely committed to advancing equality of opportunity in its public appointments, to ensure that boards of public bodies benefit from a range of diverse perspectives and are representative of the people they serve.
“Appointments to the Channel 4 board were made by Ofcom following a fair and open competition, with approval from the DCMS Secretary of State.”
According to the Guardian, Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon had warned staff on Monday (8 Jan) that accelerated plans to become a digital-first public service broadcaster would have an impact on jobs at the organisation, and that it was necessary to weather the current slump in traditional TV advertising.