ITV holds on to Ant and Dec in £20m deal as fresh chairman candidates emerge

LONDON - Geordie presenting duo Ant and Dec will make programmes exclusively for ITV for another two years, having signed a deal worth £10m each to host four programmes on ITV1, as well as make web content.

The pair, more formally known as Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, will return to host 'Britain's Got Talent', 'Saturday Night Takeaway' and 'I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here'. A new Saturday night show, 'Push The Button' is also in the works, and the pair are to be roped in to making content for itv.com.

Donnelly said: "We're particularly excited about the new media opportunities, which will allow us to make fresh and exciting content for online, and also launching our brand new entertainment show 'Push The Button' in 2010."

The reported figure of £10m each represents a 5% pay cut on their previous deal.

ITV, along with other broadcasters, has been using the advertising slump to argue for less lucrative deals with "the talent" but the cut in Ant and Dec's pay is not as severe as had been forecast. ITV said yesterday that it expects net ad revenues to rise 4% in December and the fourth quarter as a whole to show no further declines.

Separately, The Guardian reports that ITV could be close to appointing a replacement for Michael Grade, naming veteran retailer John Peace, chairman of Standard Chartered, as a frontrunner. Peace had to quit his role as chairman of Experian to take on the Standard Chartered role earlier this year, but remains chairman of Burberry.

Other names reportedly in the frame are Carphone Warehouse chairman John Gildersleeve and HMV chairman Robert Swannell.

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