Darren Childs, the CEO of British multichannel broadcaster UKTV, has decided to step down from the role he has held for eight years. The company’s board made the announcement today, saying Childs will remain in the job until July 2 while new leadership options are explored for the next phase of UKTV’s growth. The broadcaster is jointly held in a 50/50 split by BBC Studios and Discovery and there has been speculation about its future with the BBC alternately said paired with ITV and Channel4 on a buyout for the mix of 10 free-to-air and pay channels. The Guardian today says the BBC board is meeting next week and is expected to OK a deal to take control of most of UKTV on its own which would involve a one-time payment of as much as £250M and sweeteners.
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UKTV’s portfolio of brands includes Dave, Drama, Gold and Really. During Childs’ eight years at the helm, the company grew its commercial share of viewing by 42%, drove a 66% increase in revenues and nearly tripled profits — to more than £90M. Also over the period, the company launched UKTV Play, its direct to consumer VOD service which has 2M registered users. The network reaches 40M people every month.
UKTV Originals have included Taskmaster, Dynamo: Magician Impossible and large scale live events including Monty Python Live: One Down Five To Go and David Haye Boxing.
UKTV has over 100 titles currently in production, including scripted comedy Sliced and adventure series Expedition With Steve Backshall. The broadcaster also recently expanded into drama, with Flack, a dark comedy-drama set in the world of public relations starring Anna Paquin.
Childs today said, “It’s been the greatest honor to work with this fantastically talented group of people, I’m incredibly proud of what this team has created, and the successes they’ve built: growing audiences, working with our producer partners to create a collection of award-winning programs; and making bold entertainment brands that stand out from the crowd. We’ve created a huge amount of value and had a lot of fun. I want to give my sincere thanks and appreciation for the support the team has given me and look forward to continuing to work with our group over the coming months to ensure I pass the baton in a seamless fashion. I wish the company every success for the future.”
Discovery International President & CEO JB Perrette added, “Darren is a fantastic executive who has helped build market leading brands and content, and a terrific team during his tenure at UKTV. He has made an invaluable contribution to the business and on behalf of Discovery and the UKTV Board, I want to thank him for his commitment, creativity and resourcefulness at the helm of UKTV.”
Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Studios, noted, “Darren deserves our thanks for his many achievements in eight years as an excellent CEO of UKTV. His leadership of the company has created significant value for UKTV’s shareholders: overseeing a vibrant portfolio of channel brands, bringing in successful new commissions complementary to UKTV’s BBC content, and delivering consistently strong impacts and financial performance. He will leave UKTV in extremely good health, with a great team at all levels and he will take our very best wishes this summer for his own next move.”
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