Robert Charles, the head of sport at Channel 5 since 1997, is one of the latest leading executives to opt to leave the company since the £105 million takeover last month by Daily Express proprietor Richard Desmond.
Charles, a regular guest at SJA events and judge at our annual British Sports Journalism Awards, was previously head of sport for Yorkshire Television.
While at C5, he has pursued a policy of acquiring live football rights, particularly for what was the UEFA Cup, now Europa League, and the domestic Test cricket highlights package.
According to a report on the Guardian Media site, C5 staff were told yesterday that Nick Wilson, the director of children’s programming, Chris Shaw, the senior programme controller, and Charles are to leave following an invitation to apply for voluntary redundancy last month.
Cuts have been harsh since Desmond took over, especially by the standards of the television world.
According to one insider’s anecdote, which cannot be confirmed, they chose to take redundancy soon after the staff perk of free tea and coffee was withdrawn. It wasn’t the withdrawal of the perk that made up their mind, but that when staff brought in their own coffee and milk, management then wanted to charge them 50p per cup for using boiling water.
More departures are expected. The Guardian reports that the trawl for voluntary redundancy offered to staff last month was over-subscribed.
Desmond wants to implement £20 million in cuts, with up to 80 job losses – more than a quarter of C5’s 300 employees.