Media executive Alex Mahon to be the first woman to run Channel 4

Former boss of “super indie” Shine to succeed David Abraham in the autumn

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Media executive Alex Mahon has been chosen as the next chief executive of Channel 4, becoming the first woman to run the broadcaster since it was founded in 1982.

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Mahon, currently chief executive of technology company Foundry, was previously in charge of the MasterChef and Broadchurch production house Shine Group until 2015.

She takes over from David Abraham, who will depart towards the end of the year.

The channel’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt had been thought of as a strong candidate for the job but her unsuccessful application is thought to have prompted her decision to announce her own departure last week.

Charles Gurassa, Channel 4’s Chair, praised the new choice: “Alex is an outstanding leader and a highly experienced CEO who has developed and grown major international businesses in both the creative and technology sectors. She brings an impressive combination of relevant experience and is brilliantly placed to help steer Channel 4 through the competitive challenges and opportunities ahead.

“She is a great enthusiast for Channel 4 and its unique public service remit and her recent work with government will be valuable in facilitating constructive dialogue with the new administration.”

Mahon herself said: “Channel 4’s unique remit to innovate and to appeal to young and diverse audiences make it an essential part of British culture.

“There is nowhere in the world like Channel 4 and, in these changing times, its mission is more important than ever. I’m incredibly proud to be joining Channel 4 and bring to it experience both of leading creative organisations at scale and dealing with an environment of constant technological change.”

Mahon will join Channel 4 in the autumn, with an exact start to be confirmed in due course.

One of her first challenges will be to fight Tory proposals to relocate the broadcaster outside London if it wins the election.

She will also have to choose a new director of programmes to succeed Hunt, who will also stay on at the channel until the autumn to help launch The Great British Bake Off, the programme which she was instrumental in bringing to Channel 4.

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Abraham, who announced his intention to step down in March, will continue in post as chief executive until Mahon starts at Channel 4.