The broadcaster, which has been without a sales chief since commercial director Ian McCulloch left in May, is understood to have first approached Howell when he left his job as regional director and president of McCann Erickson Group in April, and for a second time in August.
Howell has met with ITV executive chairman Michael Grade once and other senior ITV management at least twice, according to insiders. He has previously expressed an interest in working at the broadcaster - Marketing revealed last autumn that he was considering throwing his hat into the ring to replace outgoing chief executive Charles Allen (Marketing, 6 September 2006).
It is thought that the role he will be offered is managing director of ITV's sales and marketing, not the commercial director position that his predecessor occupied. This would put him on a similar management level to Dawn Airey, director of global content, who has been mooted as a possible replacement for Grade, who plans to stand down by 2010.
As well as managing the broadcaster's airtime and commercial sales opportunities, Howell will oversee the ITV brand and its digital and online strategy.
ITV refused to confirm details of the appointment.
1979: Joins Ogilvy Group
1983: Joins Young & Rubicam as account director, and rises to
1987: Launches HHCL & Ptnrs
1997: Sells HHCL & Ptnrs to Chime Communications
1998: Joins Chime as chief executive
2002: Quits Chime and tries, then fails, to launch consultancy the
2003: Joins McCann Erickson as president and regional director, EMEA
2007: Quits McCann Erickson.