Screen saver: TV executive with a record of rescuing broadcasters in trouble

Screen saver: TV executive with a record of rescuing broadcasters in trouble

Having made his name as a television executive, Old Elizabethan David Lowen is now a sought-after consultant working with international broadcasters – and he has emerged as a significant figure in the world of higher education, too.

David (OE 1957–1964) went from QE to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he read Economics from 1964 to 1967. He initially worked as an economist for the National Westminster Bank in the City, before training as a journalist with the Kent Messenger Group, acting as Group Business Editor and sub-editor at the launch of the company’s daily evening paper.

A highly successful 30-year career with ITV followed, and he has since cemented that reputation through his work as a consultant adviser to broadcasters, programme-makers and financial institutions. Today he is an Honorary Fellow of the college and chaired its alumni organisation, the Emmanuel Society, for 17 years. He is also: a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; Honorary Secretary and a longstanding trustee of the Royal Television Society; a member of the English Speaking Union, and a Friend of the British Library and of St John’s Smith Square.

David is Chair of Leeds Beckett University, which has 25,000 students and 3,000 staff. Since May 2017, he has been Deputy Chair of the Committee of University Chairs and is, he says, “taking an active part in the new regulatory framework of higher education”.

During his three decades with ITV, David enjoyed success variously as an award-winning programme producer, as board director of Network Programme Development and, later, as board director of Corporate Development for Yorkshire Television. He went on to lead ITV Network’s digital terrestrial television launch project, the first successful such launch in the world.

A former president of CIRCOM, the organisation of Europe’s regional public service broadcasters, he is currently president of its programme and TV skills awards. David runs International Television and Media Consulting Ltd, which numbers many European broadcasters among its recent clients.

His long record of achievements includes rescuing EuroNews from a funding crisis. He was appointed Director General of the broadcaster, Europe’s most watched news channel, and went on to lead its journalistic coverage of the second Iraq War.

David’s latest TV consultancy work is with the TVR – the equivalent of the BBC in Romania – which has had severe financial issues. “It has lost its licence fee and is now directly funded by government – so heading back to the old days of ‘state broadcaster’, perhaps.” He characterises this work as “a tough call” and a “challenge”.

Other assignments have been diverse. He has worked with Russian free-to-air channel, Rossiya, to help it re-brand, create and buy new programme formats, and re-structure its production and management for a digital future. And he helped Ultach Trust, the Irish language lobby group, with its submission to Ofcom on encouraging the Irish language in programming in Northern Ireland.

David was Chairman of SysMedia Group plc, which recently sold its worldwide software development and subtitling business to a US-backed company. He is also part-owner and director of Format Futures, a TV content ‘ideas factory’. In addition, he is a non-executive director of a local station and advises a corporate finance group on mergers and acquisitions in the media sector.

More than five decades after leaving QE, David is still a keen cricketer, although he says the misery of contending with the Blackwall Tunnel traffic as he travelled from his south London home back to Southgate finally proved too much, so he is now playing for Kent Over 60s – debuting for the county against Hertfordshire in Potters Bar! – and for a village team in the Kent League. He is a member of The Lord’s Taverners and Middlesex County Cricket Club.

David made a “rare reappearance” at the School for the OE Dinner in 2016. He is pictured with Headmaster Neil Enright. “I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with John Symons, Richard Newton, John Keeley, Peter Vokes and others and catching up on news. Must do it again!”

He has written two books – one on survival in the wild for children, based on his network ITV series, and one on self-defence for women.

David is married and has a son, James, and a daughter, Amy.

A book written by James, A Summer of British Wildlife, was named Travel Guide Book of the Year by writers in the Travel Media Awards in 2016. James has five books published – on topics from badgers to Antarctica – and three more on the way. He is married to a former Deputy Ambassador to Argentina and they have one daughter, Maya, aged seven.

Amy, is an executive with Apple and is married to an actor and stand-up comedian.