Diary: Allen believes practice makes perfect for City

Charles Allen must be feeling a little bit like Captain Ahab this week, as he sails into yet another stormy meeting with City institutions and investors. Now that the City is wising up to what the merger deal-maker Contract Rights Renewal procedure could mean for ITV's ad revenue, the remedy itself has become one of those "bastard decisions" - it has no parent.

Allen's position has not been helped by "friends" of Greg Dyke letting it be known that he would be quite prepared to take on the job of running ITV, should Allen vacate it.

So with his job looking increasingly precarious, the ITV chief executive called together all of his top management at the weekend to think up and rehearse excuses, erm, we mean provide vision, for the broadcaster ahead of the meeting.

In scenes reminiscent of pantomime, the assembled team met on Sunday in a hotel to rehearse their lines, over and over again until they'd learned them by heart.

And with things looking so gloomy, we think panto can also provide the answer to that most pressing of questions: where exactly is your career going, Charles? Altogether now: "It's behind you."

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