The leading BBC executive behind the creation of the iPlayer system, Ashley Highfield, has taken on a new role as CEO of Kangaroo.

BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 have appointed Ashley Highfield as CEO of Kangaroo, the working title for the new video on-demand service set to launch in the UK in 2008 which will be owned by the three broadcasters.

Ashley will head up the commercial three-way joint venture and will 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, Ashley will lead negotiations with third party content owners and the future distribution of the service on other platforms.

Ashley joins the venture from the BBC where he was the director of future media and technology and was also a member of the BBC’s executive board on which he has been pivotal in transforming the BBC for the digital age.

Ashley Highfield said: "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 appointment of Highfield to the role is clearly of highly important strategic value to all three UK broadcasters, with chief executives of all three speaking out to mark the appointment.

John Smith, chief executive, BBC Worldwide said: “I’m delighted we’ve appointed Ashley as the CEO of Kangaroo. His knowledge in the digital media field is world class and he’ll bring tremendous strategic and operational expertise to successfully take the venture forward.”

Michael Grade, ITV executive chairman said: “Kangaroo will be an important shop window for UK broadcaster content and is another component of ITV’s exciting online strategy. I am pleased we have appointed a CEO with Ashley’s experience and expertise.”

Andy Duncan, chief executive, Channel 4 said: “Ashley is one of the most influential players in digital media and emerging markets and the ideal CEO to drive this important and exciting project forward. On demand is already growing at a lightning rate, as can be seen in the figures for 4oD and more recently the BBC’s iPlayer, and Kangaroo’s launch will drive the market from strength to strength.”

The joint venture’s launch is subject to approval by the BBC Trust and each broadcaster's board.