Michael Jackson is the head of programming at IAC, the collection of websites controlled by media mogul Barry Diller.
A native of Britain and the son of a baker, Jackson wrote his college thesis about the viability of a fourth national television network, one that would do battle with the BBC1, BBC2, and ITV. He got the chance to find out first-hand when he graduated and joined Channel 4, an upstart launched in 1982. Jackson spent several years producing programs for Channel 4 before moving to BBC2 to oversee a late-night arts show. He eventually moved up to controller of BBC2 and, later, BBC1, finally departing in 1997 to return to his very first home, Channel 4, as chief executive.
At Channel 4, Jackson escorted the channel to its golden age, overseeing a procession of hits, including Big Brother, Da Ali G Show, So Graham Norton, and Queer As Folk. Four years later, in a move that surprised media wags in Britain, Jackson accepted an offer from Barry Diller—who has also made his name as a champion of a fourth network—to cross the pond and head up Diller's USA Television Group. Jackson oversaw cable channels like USA and the Sci-Fi channel before leaving the company when Diller sold his cable assets to NBC Universal.
Jackson was tapped by Diller in January 2006 to head up the programming efforts at IAC and expand the company's online content offerings. Since arriving on the scene, Jackson has acquired a controlling stake in CollegeHumor.com, which also gave IAC control over the video sharing site Vimeo; he also oversaw the 2006 launch of Very Short List, an email newsletter filled with highfalutin cultural recommendations, conceived by Kurt Andersen and Simon Dumenco; and debuted 23/6, a humor site that IAC created in partnership with Huffington Post founders Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer.
IAC is now in the process of restructuring its operations and gearing up for a slew of new releases. There's RushmoreDrive.com, a search engine targeted at the black community; a tween-focused site called Green.com; a personal finance site, FiLife, which is co-owned by News Corp.; and a news aggregation site overseen by Tina Brown.
Jackson, who's unmarried, unloaded his apartment at Richard Meier-designed 173 Perry for $3.8 million in 2007, trading it in for a pad in Battery Park City.