LONDON – David Abraham, the chief executive of major UK broadcaster Channel 4, is stepping down after seven years.
Channel 4 accidentally tweeted and deleted the news about Abraham’s departure on Monday afternoon, but later confirmed the news in a full statement.
Abraham joined Channel 4 in May 2010 from rival UKTV, where he was also CEO. He will leave at the end of 2017 to “develop personal plans to launch a media enterprise.”
He has overseen a turnaround in the broadcaster’s fortunes, helping the company post a record revenue of £979 million ($1.2 billion) last year.
But his departure has been announced at a time when question marks still hang over Channel 4’s future.
The company has an unusual ownership model in that it is owned by the UK government, but is completely commercially independent. The money it makes from TV advertising and other revenue goes straight back into content, supporting innovative public service programming and the British production industry.
But the government has been assessing Channel 4’s future, with an eye on potentially privatising the broadcaster. The matter remains unresolved despite repeated calls for clarity from Abraham and other senior Channel 4 executives. Abraham has called privatisation, or part-privatisation “a solution in search of a problem.”
News of Abraham’s decision emerged in an unorthodox way. At 2 p.m., the Channel 4 press account tweeted a screenshot of part of the announcement, with the caption “long text to image.” This was swiftly deleted as it went out ahead of staff being told the news.
Looks like Channel 4 just accidentally announced the departure of chief executive David Abraham. pic.twitter.com/I4aYIEjsTM
— Jake Kanter (@Jake_Kanter) March 14, 2017
In the statement, Abraham said: “I have decided that 2017 is the right year for me to hand over this important job to my successor. I have enjoyed every day of my time at C4, in particular working with the insanely talented and committed people whom it’s been my great privilege to lead.”
Channel 4 chairman Charles Gurassa added: He leaves the organisation in excellent creative and financial health and with a strong and highly experienced team in place. We wish him well in his future new enterprise.
“My colleagues on the board and I will be undertaking a comprehensive recruitment process over the next months to ensure that Channel 4 continues to have outstanding leadership into the future.”
Abraham is the second longest serving chief executive after Michael Grade, who was in place from 1988 to 1997.