Media Perspective: ITV's new ambitious attitude deserves some credit in itself

ITV's fortunes bring to mind Peter Cook's great performance on the Clive Anderson Talks Back show as the fictional football manager Alan Latchley.

Latchley's "dare to fail" management philosophy has seemingly been adopted to the letter by ITV in recent times.

But as Latchley, the master of the cliche, points out: "The other side of failure is success." And last week's ITV results made me think that it now has a case for using the mantra "dare to succeed" as a nifty footnote to its current strategy line of "platform for change".

Archie Norman, ITV's chairman, has quickly built a reputation for being hands-on and clued-up about the challenges it faces. And, in the week of a BBC strategy review that seemed timid beyond belief, ITV, even ahead of the arrival of its chief executive, Adam Crozier, hit the correct note of cautious ambition.

The broadcaster seems to have given up on begging for concessions from the regulators and, in Norman's words, is "not asking for sympathy" and is talking of "playing on the field as we find it". It has perhaps realised that conducting its lobbying in public can look a bit sad and negative, and those who continue to carp are in danger of appearing off-message in the new ITV.

Instead, Norman is talking about addressing fundamental issues with ITV's business. Its online strategy, as the piece opposite suggests, is one such issue, with ITV well behind where it should be in both revenue and service terms. And pay-TV is another. But the good news for advertisers and viewers is that ITV, at last, seems alive to the idea that pay and online content will need to be differentiated: becoming interactive and bitesize in case of online and increasingly "premium" in terms of pay content.

The problem being: it's hard to know just what content ITV will be able to charge for. It's encouraging to hear Norman talking about a commitment to content and he's right to look towards a model that is less reliant on advertising. I'm also fed up of the collective doom-mongering over the quality of UK TV against US imports. That the US is currently going mad for Channel 4's The Red Riding Trilogy, which is showing as a five-hour film in cinemas and on video-on-demand in homes, demonstrates the potential for UK content.

But with its own studios producing less and less, ITV is a long way off creating a conveyor belt of hits for global export. To give ITV's management credit, though, at least it recognises that it can no longer rely on a few primetime shows such as Coronation Street and The X Factor that advertisers will buy into. It might not quite be succeeding, but at least it's daring to try.