Hands-on Grade will have his work cut out at ITV

ITV's capture of Michael Grade from its greatest audience rival engendered drunken euphoria among analysts, advertisers and employees, yet, in the sober light of day, questions are being posed about his capacity to address the tasks ahead.

Grade is certainly a big enough personality to instil much-needed confidence in ITV and steady what has become a capsizing ship. With no contractual notice to serve, he can take up the challenge immediately and brings with him a treasure chest of competitor knowledge. Such is the Beeb's anxiety, it has writen to Grade demanding that he protect the confidentiality of this insider info.

Whether such knowledge will help Grade in the immediate challenges ahead is another matter. First among these is CRR. ITV stands to lose up to a tenth of its revenue next year, largely because of the CRR millstone. Charles Allen, a skilled lobbyist and best mate of Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, seemed to be winning a campaign to have CRR overhauled, or even scrapped.

Grade, a more prickly character, may not be as adept in carrying the CRR baton. Having jilted his boss, Jowell, halfway through his four-year tenure at the BBC, at a critical time in the negotiations over the licence fee and the creation of the new BBC Trust, he may not get such a friendly ear at the DCMS, or Ofcom.

He may have more chance of persuading the advertising community that, if it supports him on reform of CRR, he will ensure that programming budgets will be increased to provide more consumer eyeballs.

In winning the hearts of advertisers, Grade has made a good start, abolishing ITV's share buy-back programme and ploughing the money into programming. Yet, early indications cast doubts over ITV's programming strategy.

Grade admits that the attraction of the job was the chance to get more hands-on in programming matters, and the insider talk is that Simon Shaps, ITV's director of TV, will be ousted within months. Given the brevity of Shaps's tenure, and Grade's admission that he has watched little ITV over the past year, this would add unnecessary volatility.

And has he got the stamina? With no plans to hire a chief exec for two years, can a 63-year-old be an executive chairman and a hands-on programming strategist? Maybe he's stocked up on the Phyllosan.

Have your say...

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Media Week Jobs
Search for more media jobs

Latest

JCDecaux partners with Hachette UK for Twitter book club

JCDecaux partners with Hachette UK for Twitter book club

JCDecaux has struck the first content partnership for its commuter book club, with publisher Hachette UK.

Share
Samsung calls global advertising and media review

Samsung calls global advertising and media review

Samsung has put its global advertising and media accounts up for review.

Share
Absolute's Anthony Abbott becomes digital product director at Bauer Media

Absolute's Anthony Abbott becomes digital product director at Bauer Media

Anthony Abbott has been appointed digital product director within the radio division of Bauer Media, a newly created strategic role for the group's recently consolidated radio portfolio.

Share

Get news by email