Channel 4 head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne is stepping down after 17 years in “the best job in television”, but will stay at the broadcaster for another year as editor-at-large.
Byrne’s new role, which she will begin on 1 May, will see her develop a factual podcast strategy for Channel 4, mentor staff across the organisation, and help to implement a sustainability strategy.
Channel 4 said she would continue to contribute towards programme ideas but will no longer play an active part in commissioning.
Byrne said: “The last year has been one of great success for Channel 4 News and Current Affairs and for me personally so it’s the perfect time for me to step aside and give someone else the pleasure of the best job in television.
“I will continue to contribute to the creative life of the channel. I am also very excited to be working to help develop the careers of staff, particularly of women, at the channel and also to be playing a key role in the creation of a new sustainability policy for Channel 4.”
Byrne made headlines last year when she called Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “cowards” for avoiding TV interviews and compared the Prime Minister to Vladimir Putin as she delivered the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival.
She also spoke about being “the oldest female TV executive working for a broadcaster” and the struggles she has faced working with “sexist bastards” in news and current affairs.
She was made a fellow of the Royal Television Society in 2018 for making an “outstanding contribution to television” and was last year awarded the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award at the 2019 British Documentary Awards for achievements in factual filmmaking.
Channel 4 director of programmes Ian Katz, who will lead the recruitment process for a new head of news and current affairs, said he was “so pleased” Byrne would be staying with the broadcaster until 2021.
“No British media executive has done as much to shape the coverage of news and current affairs on television as Dorothy,” he said.
“Over more than 15 years she has been the restless force behind agenda setting Channel 4 programming from the exposing of war crimes in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to the recent laying bare of Michael Jackson’s child sexual abuse.
“She has a laser-like eye for a story, huge creative flair and Channel 4 DNA running through her like rock.”
Earlier in her career Byrne worked as a producer for World In Action and was editor of ITV’s The Big Story before she joined Channel 4 in 1998 as commissioning editor of current affairs and editor of Dispatches.
Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire