MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: All change, no real progress as media stays in the bunker

Well, here I am back from my reproductive exile and sifting through the rubble of egos, business plans and careers laid waste while I've been away.

For the record, I wish I'd been here to write about: the bowings-out of Chris Ingram and Ray Kelly, both in their different ways architects of the UK media industry and both driven out by forces without a passion for media; how the challenge for the new Mediaedge:CIA is to prove it is less Sorrell's monster and more a happy pooling of two intelligent brands capable of achieving the sort of dynamic strategic positioning the two old ones never quite managed; how the OMDs and MindShares deserve to get a sharp wake-up call from the new Publicis media portfolio - four aggressively independent media operations with a European mentality; how Carat might have over taken Zenith in the UK for the first time, but is looking increasingly isolated on the international stage.

Then there's the BBC whipping public service broadcasting on to satellite, while the commercial sector virtually rolls over; Piers Morgan turning his back on the Daily Mirror's heartland to go on a vanity publishing jaunt; the cable industry finally falling from its knees after years of appaling marketing and even worse customer service, though broadband could be the seed that sires the phoenix; the internet's fall from grace on media schedule as agencies, ever the opportunists when a bandwagon hoves into view, leapt off pretty quickly once new-media credentials ceased to be a shiny new business tool.

Meanwhile, recession, which could have been the ill wind that blew fresh thinking through the media industry, has failed to inflict a kick up the arse-end of the business, claiming too few bloaters and too many poor sprats. The true cost of short-sighted retrenchment will only be counted when upturn comes and the fresh blood required to put new life and bright new ideas back into the industry will be very hard to find. Over-paid water-treaders waiting for pay-offs will, I suspect, still be in plentiful supply.

Which brings me neatly to ITV and the roadkill that has become ITV Digital while I've been away. Fortunately the reactivation of merger talks between the increasingly beleaguered Carlton and Granada - likely to get the go-ahead in the government's new communications bill - is likely to provide plenty of sport across the coming months. But the fatal errors of judgment that have characterised ITV Digital, the sheer bad management, arrogance and naivety, remain firmly entrenched within the ITV system. Before any merger of the two companies, many heads must be yanked from the sand and rolled.

Sadly, though, I was not here to offer my two-penny-worth on any of this.

Still, it's good to be back ...