Media Lifeline: Lord Carter

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 26 June 2009 12:00AM

From adland, telecoms client, Ofcom and PR to No 10 and the Lords - what's next for the author of Digital Britain?

1994: A law graduate, Stephen Carter had joined J Walter Thompson as a trainee in 1987, rising to managing director and then chief executive. He develops a fascination for pioneering new-media companies and even persuades one, NTL, to become a JWT client.

September 2000: Following speculation that he might be about to become the ITV network centre boss, Carter ups and leaves JWT to become NTL's UK chief operating officer. And it's by no means the safest career move imaginable - NTL soon runs into difficulties relating to the $12 billion debt it has built up acquiring rival cable TV companies. However, in November 2002, with the company still in difficulties, he leaves with a reported £1.6 million pay-off.

January 2003: After a short break, Carter's back in business again, this time as the first chief executive of Ofcom, the media and telecoms super-regulator slated to start operating in December 2003. In 2006, he announces he's decided to move on again - and although he's linked with many plum media jobs (including, again, the top job at ITV), he fetches up as the chief executive of the public relations company Brunswick.

October 2008: In January 2008, he entered the political arena as the chief of strategy and principal advisor to Gordon Brown. When that doesn't work out, he is given a peerage, enabling him to become the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications.

June 2009: Carter's charged with developing proposals that will guarantee that the country builds a "world-class digital and communications structure" - and his recommendations are contained in a report entitled Digital Britain. But shortly before its publication, it is confirmed that Carter will soon move on again and would be open to offers from the private sector. There's speculation that he may be looking to work outside the UK.

Fast forward ...

May 2011: And, indeed, he does spend a good deal of his time abroad, jetting in as required to meet the demands of a number of non-executive directorships, and showing support in the House for the Prime Minister, Peter Mandelson. But, at last, he bows to the inevitable, becoming the chief executive of ITV, now a Manchester-based soap-opera production outfit owned by the NTL successor company, Virgin Sky Broadcasting.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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