Interviews – Media – Joan Lofts

Joan Lofts recently moved from her position as a consultant with Children’s ITV to become the new director of broadcasting at ITV2, the cable and digital entertainment channel launched by ITV in late 1998. We caught up with her and asked how a lowly ITN researcher made it to a senior position in the new digital media environment

Date of birth: Experienced, very experienced!

Former job:I was basically a freelance channel consultant working for Children’s ITV and I worked with various other clients throughout last year.

New title:Director of broadcasting, ITV2.

Why did you take on the new job?
I was thrown a great opportunity that was a step further in my overall progression. It was also a chance to develop further skills. I had been in the children’s marketplace for a very long time and the chance to do youth entertainment and sport really appealed to me.

What will you miss most about your old job?
The freedom I had to decide when and where I worked. I was my own boss which was great. The downside was that it was a fairly lonely occupation, something that has been emphasised by my new job where I’m working with a great team of people.

What most excites you about the new position?
ITV2 has got a brilliant team of talented young people. It is my job to take them to the next stage and that is a great role. I have a pretty free rein to take things in the direction I see fit; that’s why I was given the job, because of my multi-channel experience.

I work closely with Andrew Chowns, the commercial director and the head of the channel, Brian Barwick [ITV2 director of programmes and ITV controller of sport], and I love working with them.

What are you least excited about?
I haven’t found it yet – nothing’s had time to rear its head!

What are your personal ambitions?
I am expanding the possibilities open to me in the digital and multi-channel world, the area of the industry that I really love. For me channel programmeming, channel strategy and channel creative offer wonderful jobs and that’s where I want to continue to be.

I have put myself in a position now where I have endless possibilities to work anywhere in this industry, which is awesome. I have found the level that I want to be at, and I hope to succeed at this level for years to come.

What are your new responsibilities?
programme acquisitions; scheduling, as in what time we show stuff; on air – which means getting the continuity right, and the overall programmeming strategy; and, lastly, promotions – how we promote ITV2.

What do you think the future holds for you and the company?
Personally I have been exposed to a great world of opportunity. I hope I continue to be thrown more challenges in channel life, and I will continue trying to further my career.

The company future is interesting. We’re babies in comparison to other channels, and there is a huge opportunity for ITV to extend its portfolio of channels and become very successful.

Any pearls of wisdom?
The notion of being up for a challenge, not being scared and going for what you really want with enthusiasm and energy is one I would cling to as an undergraduate looking to get in. Always grasp your opportunities and live life on the edge. I still do and I always have.

Try not to take yourself too seriously because it is only television after all. If you do not have the experience and academic background, just believe that you can do it and you will. You might have to start right at the bottom, but if you’re good at your job you will quickly catch up. To get in you just need to be persistent – don’t stop phoning, and make friends with the bosses secretary.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?
When I first joined the industry it was as a junior in an ITV film library. I had to type library cards and then cross-reference them about twenty times. My typing was so bad and my monster of a boss would rip up the cards I had done if they had the slightest mistake and do them over again.

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