It may not be too late for this year's turkey to avoid a stuffing

Last week, I met a man who used to work on the BBC Good Food Magazine. Amazingly, he was both good company and heterosexual. He told me that, back in the day, they used to get that extra special Christmas cover look by stuffing a microwaved tampon (unused) up the backside of the bird. For slow steam release, this system apparently beats an Alessi kettle.

The image of hot air rising from a turkey got me thinking of ITV Sales' restructure, which has seen it rebadged as ITV Customer Relations and split into two departments - one focusing on trading, the other on planning.

Gary Digby, the managing director of the rebranded department, told Campaign's sister magazine, MediaWeek: "Any broadcaster who thinks they are going to just sit in the trading room and grow their business is away with the fairies." A fair comment you might have thought, but in the days that followed, I witnessed grown men crying - with laughter - having read this statement, due to the perception that Digby and his team, frequent forays on to the fairway aside, have barely left their trading floor for years.

This seemed a harsh indictment of Digby, who is said to be a bright and persuasive force for ITV, and, rather than attack him, it seems more relevant to question whether or not this latest shuffling of the deck is too little too late from ITV. Surely it's been apparent for some time that core revenues from ITV1 were in decline (they are expected to be 13 per cent down this year)? But, on the plus side, it is finally doing something about it, putting a greater emphasis on a longer-term sell, that will be important in maximising revenues from its digital TV channels and online assets.

Yet there seems little revolutionary in ITV's approach. Media owners have had planning departments for years, and there is still some lingering scepticism at agencies over whether or not they deliver any real value. Critics of ITV also add that the new structure does little to address their perceptions of structural confusions, such as the issue of the ad development director, Nicky Buss, reporting to the commercial director, Ian McCulloch, rather than to Digby.

The restructure, due in January, will be too late to impact on this year's trading season, yet, if the broadcaster can start the new year trading smarter, it will deserve cautious praise.

One factor in its favour is that, compared with some of the online operations featured elsewhere on this page, ITV still boasts some strong sales talent, and they will be battling hard to turn its intentions into more than just hot air. However, as with GCap Media in radio, you can't help but wonder how much better the situation would be for ITV if it had begun acting like a market leader three years ago, rather than now.

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