Michael Jackson walks away from SeeSaw

Former chief executive of Channel 4 leaves chairman designate role at struggling online TV company

Michael Jackson, the former chief executive of Channel 4, is understood to have walked away from his role as chairman designate of SeeSaw, as a wrangle over financing threatens the online TV venture's future.

Criterion Capital Partners, which bought SeeSaw from broadcast transmission firm Arqiva in early July, intended to bring in Jackson to lead a turnaround of the struggling online TV company.

The private equity firm, which also owns former AOL asset Bebo, had a transition agreement in place with Arqiva contingent on raising a multimillion-pound round of funding for SeeSaw by 31 August.

CCP is understood to have run into problems with the lead backer in the investment consortium Weston Capital and, as of the time of publication, no deal had yet been agreed.

MediaGuardian.co.uk understands Jackson will now not take up the role of SeeSaw chairman even if the financial deal is belatedly hammered out.

Jackson, a former controller of BBC1 and BBC2, is currently a director at Scottish ITV-licensee STV and senior advisor at Barry Diller's internet empire IAC.

While CCP may still secure the promised finance there are questions over what the delay means for the SeeSaw service and staff as Arqiva is no longer contractually bound to run the venture.

Arqiva is not obliged to provide an office or ongoing funding for the 20-plus SeeSaw staff, who were meant to have moved to a new headquarters. Questions also remain over whether Arqiva is now also obliged to retain a 25% minority stake now the deal terms have been breached. Arqiva was set to have a seat on the new board.

Since the deal was completed in early July close to 20 programming and content deals have been renegotiated.

However, Channel 4, which provides shows popular with a young and internet-savvy audience such as The Inbetweeners and Skins, has come off the SeeSaw service.

Arqiva launched SeeSaw using assets acquired from what was Project Kangaroo, the video-on-demand joint venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 scotched by competition regulators.

A spokesman for Arqiva said: "Arqiva can confirm that, although legal completion of the sale of Seesaw to a new venture backed by Criterion Capital Partners and Weston Capital took place on 8 July, to our knowledge no funds have subsequently been received by the venture.

"Arqiva is disappointed by the failure of the investors to provide their committed funding and the implications this has for Seesaw. Arqiva is pressing the consortium behind SeeSaw Online Ltd to provide the funding needed to meet their obligations in the UK, including to its staff, to suppliers and to Arqiva."

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Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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