John Osmond reviews the shortlist for the Welsh channel’s top job
S4C finally advertised for a new chief executive just over a week ago, more than ten months after the departure of Iona Jones. At least four names are in the frame for a job that last attracted a salary of £160,000. Possibly the most exotic is London Mayor Boris Johnson’s right-hand political fixer Guto Harri, a former BBC chief political correspondent.
Other names in the frame include Aled Eurig, another former head of BBC Wales news and more recently constitutional adviser to Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas when he was Presiding Officer, Rhodri Williams, another former broadcast journalist and currently Director of Ofcom Wales, and Wyn Innes, a chartered accountant, former Managing Director of S4C International, and now Managing Director of Cardiff-based Greenfield, a television production and marketing agency.
Although Guto Hari lacks management experience but has plenty of other broadcasting hinterland. He started his career with Radio Cymru working on the S4C news programme Newyddion and on a number of historical documentaries for S4C as well as presenting BBC Wales’ main election programme.
Harri was a regular presenter on BBC television and radio programmes such as The World at One, Westminster Live, Straight Talk, Despatch Box and The World This Weekend. He played a key role in covering the collapse of communism in Romania, Czechoslavakia and East Germany before reporting on the Gulf War from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Northern Iraq. He became the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent in November 2002, and also presented the channel’s weekly interview programme, One To One. He moved briefly to Rome in 2004 and then became North American Business correspondent in New York in until June 2007.
After leaving the BBC at the end of 2007, Harri was approached to work for Conservative leader David Cameron, but joined London public relations agency Fleishman-Hillard as a Senior Policy Advisor, spending four weeks as an adviser to Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirau. He became Communications Director for Boris Johnson, who he had known at Oxford University, in 2008.
Aled Eurig was “loaned out” by BBC Wales to the Presiding Office of the National Assembly in 2006 on a three-days-a-week basis, the first member of the BBC Wales management board to do so. The scheme was designed for staff to “share skills and talents with other organisations”. Before that Eurig was head of corporate social responsibility with BBC Wales for three years and before that head of News. Previously he was a journalist with HTV Wales.
Rhodri Williams joined Ofcom in January 2004 and is responsible for all aspects of Ofcom’s work in Wales. He began his career as a journalist in 1980 and joined HTV Wales’s current affairs department in July 1982. In 1989 he was one of the co-founders of Wales’s largest independent production company, Agenda Television, now known as Tinopolois. In 1999 he was appointed Chair of the Welsh Language Board.
Wyn Innes created Greenfield in February 2005, as a merger between Greenfield Media and the Push4 Group. He is the former Managing Director of S4C International, having been appointed as the first Managing Director of its commercial companies, a role which also required him to be a member of S4C’s Management Team and an executive representative on S4C’s Authority. At S4C he developed a track record for funding a large number of international co-productions throughout the world and signing international co-production agreements in major territories. He is also the former Director and chief executive of SDN, one of the six Multiplexes that make up Freeview. He turned the business around from a loss maker in 2002 to a profit in 2004, leading the company to the sale to ITV in April 2005 for £135m, described at the time by Broadcast magazine as the seventh largest Media deal in the UK , and generating a positive £33 million return for S4C.
An outside bet for the job could be Ian Jones, currently managing director for the American A&E television Networks commercial development arm, AETN International, based in new York. He manages distribution of the company’s 8,000-hour library to which 800 hours are added every year. Jones, who began his career with S4C in the early 1980s, has also been deputy managing director of Granada International and President of National geographic Television International.