After 25 years in media, Hazlitt garners huge respect and much love in the business, so it was perhaps apt that it was one of the UK’s best known media hacks turned spin doctor and friend who did the off-the-record steering as the news broke. It was a tricky tightrope: not wanting to stress a physical illness from which a recovery is under way, but realising that "leaving to spend more time with her family" always sounds ominous. The briefing was "physiological as opposed to psychological" and "serious but,with confidence, it is treatable". We all wish her a full and speedy recovery. Make no mistake, she will be missed.
Since her arrival at ITV four-and-a-half years ago, the managing director of commercial and online has transformed the way the broadcaster operates and, with it, external perceptions. The step change from monopolistic, arrogant gatekeeper to open, innovative partner has been well-documented by Campaign.
The UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster is set to generate more than £1.5 billion in ad revenues this year and total revenues of more than £2.4 billion. Online, pay and interactive revenues have grown from £50 million to £150 million during her award-laden tenure.
'If 2014 has taught us anything, it is how quickly situations can change. Next year looks far from predictable'
Yet Hazlitt was not the obvious choice for ITV in 2010. Despite her years in the media, including leadership roles at Virgin Radio and Yahoo, she had no previous TV experience. The fact Hazlitt’s surprise exit did not send shockwaves through the City is testament to the strength and depth of the team she quickly assembled – among them, her successor, Kelly Williams, the modest man of media who garners both trust and respect.
If 2014 has taught us anything, it is how quickly situations can change. We have seen ESI Media become a broadcaster, the independent tub-thumper Walker Media bought by Publicis Groupe and Channel 5 sold to Viacom. In the top flight of agencies, there have been no fewer than five new chief executives appointed this year in Stuart Bowden, Jason Dormieux, Ali MacCallum, Nick Baughan and, of course, Grant Millar, whose return is much-anticipated.
Elsewhere, the land grab taking place in the telecoms sector promises further disruption as speculation mounts that Vodafone could acquire the Virgin Media owner, Liberty Global, as well Tesco’s Blinkbox.
ZenithOptimedia may be still reeling from the loss of O2, but its successor, Havas Media, would be wise to put the Champagne on ice following news that BT is now in the mix to buy the global operator.
Next year is looking far from predictable.