Channel 4 has appointed Alex Mahon as its chief executive - marking the first time a woman will run a top UK broadcaster.
Mahon joins Channel 4 as its first female chief from Foundry, a global technology business delivering visual effects and virtual reality for the entertainment industry, which she has run as chief executive since 2015. Its software is used by a number of global brands including Pixar, Mercedes-Benz, ILM, Walt Disney Animation and Sony Pictures, and is behind the visual effects in a number of blockbuster movies such as Finding Dory, Star Wars and the James Bond franchise.
Mahon arrives at a challenging time for Channel 4, which faces negotiations with the government about proposed plans to relocate the broadcaster outside its London headquarters should the Conservatives win the general election on Thursday (8 June).
Mahon brings a wealth of TV production experience, having previously served as chief executive of production company Shine Group until 2015. Mahon was part of a slew of staff who left the production company following its merger with Big Brother maker Endemol and American Idol producer Core Media in 2014.
The TV boss also worked at Talkback Thames, the original maker of Channel 4 show Grand Designs.
Mahon previously worked closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, having served as a member of the advisory panel put together to help map out the future scope and remit of the BBC ahead of the renewal of its royal charter last year.
Mahon is expected to start the £900,000 a year job in October or November, and takes over from David Abraham who leaves later this year.
Her appointment comes after the favourite for the job - Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt - announced she was stepping out of the race and will leave the broadcaster in September. It is thought she stepped down due to qualms with the government’s proposal for relocation.
Mahon will be involved in the appointment of Hunt’s successor.
Charles Gurassa, Channel 4’s chair, said of the appointment: “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 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."