Highfield resigns from Johnston press citing family reasons. He will be replaced by chief financial officer David King.
I have been privileged to lead Johnston Press during a period of unprecedented turbulence in our industry. Since 2011 we have grown our overall audience, in particular our digital business, created an industry leading telesales operation and maintained margins. The acquisition of the i newspaper has been a particular highlight. I am proud of what the board and my colleagues have achieved and would like to thank them all for their support.
Johnston Press Chair, Rhodes:
We are sorry that he felt that his personal circumstances required a change at this time. We wish him every success in the next phase of his career. Ashley oversaw the successful acquisition of the i newspaper, has driven growth in our digital footprint, while making substantial progress in reorganising and restructuring our business. We wish him every success in the next phase of his career.
Highfield is named vice-chairman of the News Media Association, which represents the national and regional newspaper industry.
Newsbrands are experiencing a renewed surge in confidence as their digital audiences and revenues continue to grow, and the power of print as a highly effective editorial and advertising medium is more widely acknowledged. The NMA has a critical role to play in highlighting the strength and adaptability of of newsbrands – in print and digital – as communications medium.
Highfields writes an editorial for The Yorkshire Post, about the BBC’s moves into regional news.
When I first read the BBC’s Future of News report last week I’m not sure what depressed me most – the inflammatory language used, the misguided sentiment behind it, or the fact that the BBC intends parking a tank on every local lawn and offering its version of hyper local news controlled from London W1A…Ithe BBC needs to focus on what it’s brilliant at – creating world-class content – and stop trying to be all things to all people. The BBC sets the standard for national and international news. They simply don’t have the resources to be brilliant at everything..I do still dare to believe that we can actually create a genuinely collaborative partnership – one which allows the BBC to play its role in the provision of local news but which still allows local media to thrive in the communities they have been serving for hundreds of years…Fast forward to a digital world where there is not supply from a television and radio broadcaster to a print publisher, but a flow of digital content to and from a national media brand to hyper local titles.
Highfield is appointed CEO of Johnston Press. He will start on November 1. He will be given a £500,000 “golden hello” share package, in a compensation package that is biased towards equity. The publisher currently has only about 7% of total revenues from digital sources, and it is struggling with a huge debt burden and tough advertising market. Chairman Russell:
His combined online and media sector pedigree will be a major strength in enabling us to grow our business again. On behalf of the board I would also like to thank John for his major contribution to the company and wish him well for the future.
Highfield leaves Project Kangaroo after four months to join Microsoft as managing director of their UK online operation. He will be replaced on an interim basis by Ron Henwood, while a search for a replacement is conducted. Kangaroo Chairman Ben McOwen Wilson:
We would like to thank Ashley for leading Project Kangaroo through a crucial stage in its development, and we wish him well for the future.
Highfield is appointed CEO of Kangaroo, a video-on-demand service owned by BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, and due to launch in 2008. He take over from Lesley Mackenzie, who has been managing the project as interim CEO. As well as overseeing the roll-out of the new service, Highfield will lead negotiations with third party content owners and the future distribution of the service on other platforms.
This is a fantastic opportunity. Kangaroo is a historic partnership with a combination of innovative technology and terrific content and I’m looking forward to transforming the way audiences watch television.
The BBC announces that Highfield will join the corporation as Director of New Media & Technology, starting in October. He is the youngest ever member of the Executive Committee, reporting directly to Director General Greg Dyke. The new media division consists of interactive television, BBC Online and a new research and development department called Imagineering, which has been rolled out over the past two months.
BBC Online is an incredible achievement and the advances made in interactive services are very exciting. I hope my experience, combined with the power of the BBC brand, will be an unbeatable combination.
At Flextech, highfield creates sites for Discovery, Playboy and Parliamentary channels. He builds the business from just himself, to 100 staff. He launches The Doll’s House, an online reality show for the Bravo channel.
It was a number of girls in a house under constant surveillance by webcam. It hit the headlines when, not surprisingly, a visiting boyfriend got caught in bed with one of the girls on webcam.
He successfully invests in the dotcom boom, including the online mapping site MultiMap.com, and the ticketing agency Way Ahead Group.
When I lucked in during the dotcom boom I bought myself a Ferrari.
While at the company he is presented with their “worst dressed man” award.
Highfield returns to the UK, where he is hired as head of IT for NBC Europe. He is tasked with the set up one of the first television websites in the UK.
Highfield is sent to work in South Africa, where his is employed by the ANC shortly after it is pitched into crisis by the arrest of Winnie Mandela in relation to the death of activist Stompie Moeketsi Seipei. Amid allegations of financial irregularities, Highfield is asked to get the books in order. He employs Olive Mungadze, a Zimbabwean, who is the only female black chartered accountant in sub-Saharan Africa. During the project, Mungadze and Highfield go into a remote Afrikaaner diner in Transkei.
I had never known an entire restaurant stop eating and just turn round and stare at me, a suited white businessman, with Olive, a suited black woman. They just stared at us for the whole dinner. An utterly different world. It was only 1993.
Highfield is hired as a management consultant by Coopers & Lybrand Consulting.
Ashley Highfield is born.