Former candidate for BBC chairmanship gets top job at Channel 4's schools programming unit
Channel 4 has hired a former candidate for the BBC chairmanship, who once held what was billed as 'the worst job in local government', to run its schools programming unit 4 Learning.

BBC governor Heather Rabbatts, a barrister who was chief executive of the London Borough of Lambeth until April last year, joins the channel next month reporting to Rob Woodward, managing director of C4's commercial arm 4 Ventures.

She replaces former 4 Learning managing director and deputy director of programmes Karen Brown, who left C4 in August with no job to go to (Broadcast, 3.8.01).

As managing director of 4 Learning, Rabbatts will be charged with overseeing all the department's activities, including its schools programmes service and websites. It will be her job to ensure that the department closes its operating deficit. According to Woodward, the cost of running 4 Learning's services currently exceeds its revenues by about 20 per cent. 4 Learning turns over around£20m, of which£15m comes from C4 with the remainder from government, sponsorship and the sale of educational material.

Rabbatts is the second senior executive to join C4 this year without a programming background. In May, C4 appointed Woodward, former UBS Warburg managing director in corporate finance, to spearhead 4 Ventures.

Woodward said: 'Under Heather's management we will be seeking new opportunities to grow our education business through 4 Learning and turn it into a commercial business founded on our public service remit.'

Rabbatts said she welcomed the opportunity to 'grow 4 Learning into a powerhouse of learning provision, while continuing to help and empower learners to expand their horizons'.

In August, Rabbatts was on the shortlist to succeed Sir Christopher Bland as BBC chairman alongside chief economist of Goldman Sachs and BBC vice-chairman Gavyn Davies, former C4 chief executive Michael Grade, television journalist David Dimbleby and Labour bigwig Baroness Jay.

She will resign her seat on the BBC's board of governors, which she took up in 1999, but will remain co-chair of Impower Group, the company she established in April 2000, to provide online consultancy services for local government.

Before joining the maligned Lambeth Borough Council, Rabbatts was London Borough of Merton chief executive. A governor of the LSE, Rabatts received a CBE in the 2000 new year's honours.