ITV's new sales director Kelly Williams
ITV's new sales director Kelly Williams
A view from Jeremy Lee

Jeremy Lee: ITV needed a sales chief who could hit the ground running

In what looked suspiciously like an exercise in crisis management, ITV's Fru Hazlitt appeared quick to react to rumours that its incoming sales director Kelly Williams would be hamstrung in the dealings he could have with agencies until after this year's trading season is completed.

While the as-yet-unsubstantiated story did the rounds almost as quickly as those of errant Premiership footballers, it was greeted with a similar level of acceptance as being gospel. Within hours, the company had issued a press release announcing that Ben Allen, one of the few survivors from the cull of the sales department, had been promoted to trading director.

While Williams will still start on 1 August, it's not clear exactly what he'll be able to do. The noises emanating from Northern & Shell, the owner of his erstwhile employer Channel 5, are that he has a clause prohibiting him from "soliciting conversations" with clients he has previously dealt with until January 2012. If Williams may indeed be free to sit at his new desk at ITV, shuffling his stationery, it's likely that N&S's Stan Myerson will be closely monitoring things to sure that he doesn't deviate from this clause, effectively making him commercially impotent.

So Allen has been wheeled out as the guardian of ITV's deal book to reassure the industry - and possibly shareholders, given just how dependent ITV is still on its annually negotiated airtime deals.

Other changes include a new role for that great survivor (and presumably adept political manoeuvrer) Gary Knight, who has been given the job of commercial content director to add to the numerous other honorifics that he has held during his 30-odd years at the company. Snazzy new divisions, such as a "client activation team" and a "strategic engagement team" have also been created as Hazlitt presses on with her vision for the foot soldiers on the sales floor.

Given how much change ITV has been through - and continues to undergo as the management team seems to develop organically - it's nice to see Knight's old face still there.

Talking of old faces, what to make of the other strong rumours that ITV's former commercial supremo Ian McCulloch will be joining Channel 4 to replace Andy Barnes? If true, it's a wise hiring and should provide some much needed focus to the Channel 4 sales operation, which is good at driving media innovation but has perhaps become less good at punching anywhere near its (diminishing) weight.

McCulloch is an impressive negotiator. Quite how willing he will be to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty with the day-to-day trading is another matter, suggesting that more change could be on the cards. But at least it appears that Channel 4, unlike ITV, will have sensibly hired someone who will be able to get on with the job from day one.