Channel 4's chief creative officer Jay Hunt is thought to be the favourite to become the broadcaster's new chief executive following final interviews this week.
If selected, as Media Guardian believes that she might be, Hunt would become the first female chief executive of any of the traditional ‘first four’ UK television channels.
Australian born Hunt has been the creative force behind introducing Gogglebox and acclaimed drama Humans to Channel 4, but has had to fend of anti-feminist and ageist discrimination claims in the past, both at Channel 4 and as former controller at the BBC, having axed both Miriam O’Reilly and John McCririck.
She faces competition for the post from Alex Mahon, the female former chief executive of Shine. Mahon has been the producer of MasterChef and Broadchurch and currently runs the special effects firm behind Hollywood blockbusters including Gravity and Interstellar. Sales chief Jonathan Allen is also a candidate for the role.
Frontrunner Hunt began her media career in the UK in 1989 when she became a researcher for BBC Breakfast News before moving onto Newnight, Panorama and then editor of the BBC’s One and Six O'Clock news programmes. She has also served as director of programmes at Channel 5 and was credited as the executive who acquired The Great British Bake Off for Channel 4, albeit sans the majority of its original cast.
The new chief executive will take over from the seven-year tenure of David Abraham. A vociferous opponent of the government’s former plans to sell-off the broadcaster, Abraham chose to step down in March to establish his own venture, saying: “I hope to build an organisation that makes use of all that I learned from leading different kinds of innovative businesses,”
Abraham also resisted a move of Channel 4’s headquarters outside the capital to a location such as Birmingham, but the new chief executive may have to prove more open the possibility due to persistent political pressures. With Hunt having worked previously in Birmingham with Daytime for the BBC, this may prove more of a draw.
Channel 4 has seen something of a small ratings renaissance over the past year, having decreased in viewing figures consistently over the decade, but its core demographic of 18-34 year-olds is thought to have declined by around 15%.