Michael Grade pulls out of the race for ITV top job

LONDON - Michael Grade, the former boss of Channel 4, has been ruled out of the running for ITV's top job by a spokeswoman who said he is 'not interested' in returning to TV.

Grade, who has not worked in TV for five years, has been head of Pinewood-Shepperton film studios since 1999. He is also chairman of National Lottery operator Camelot.

His spokeswoman said: "He's not interested in the job and he was never approached by ITV -- never."

His name was linked with the top ITV job after Dawn Airey, chief executive of Channel 5, backed out of negotiations and took up the post of managing director at Sky Networks.

Grade is believed to be one of few UK TV executives with the experience needed to reverse the fortunes of the ailing network, which has suffered from the effects of a media recession and the financial drain of the collapsed ITV Digital.

The comments will be bad news for ITV's owners, Carlton Communications and Granada, who are running out of suitable candidates to fill the role.

Grade spent nine years at Channel 4 before leaving in 1997. He was known for developing quality dramas, as well as making Channel 4 financially successful.

Grade's successor at Channel 4, Michael Jackson, is also believed to be a potential candidate for the job. Jackson left last year to join USA Networks but is understood to be unhappy there.

At the moment, ITV is being run by joint managing directors Mick Desmond and Clive Jones. The station appears to be experiencing a ratings renaissance recently with the success of shows such as 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here' and 'Popstars: The Rivals'.

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