In a surprise announcment, ITV CEO Dawn Airey said that she is leaving the U.K.'s largest commercial TV company to join RTL, as chairman and CEO of RTL's Channel Five network. The move was especially startling given the fact that she had only recently been appointed to ITV's board of directors amid speculation that she was being further groomed to succeed ITV Executive Chairman Michael Grade when Grade steps down in two years. Airey had served as Five's CEO between 2000 and 2003. She will replace Jane Lighting, who apparently had been kept in the dark about negotiations with Airey. In a message to staff, Lighting said that she was "not in a position" to comment on the decision, "but I hope to be able to do so soon. ... I am intending to be back in the office tomorrow." RTL is a pan-European broadcasting company headquartered in Luxembourg and controlled by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann.