Who should get the ITV job?
Richard Eyre has completed his farewell ITV tour with a convincing
presentation to advertisers and agencies on 17 January and will soon be
ensconced in the Pearson TV chair vacated by Greg Dyke. Now the
speculation can really begin.
Informed opinion suggests it has to be someone with agency experience
who understands the dynamics of the airtime market, with limitless
diplomatic skills to deal with customers and ITV stakeholders. Our own
Simon Marquis has been rumoured to be a front runner, and the
distinguished Campaign columnist, Dominic Mills, even suggested me!
Sadly, I can confirm I have received no approaches whatsoever.
This is going to be a difficult role to fill, not just because of the
qualities needed by credible candidates but because of its likely
short-term nature. The successful candidate, as well as needing some
appreciation of time buying, will need leadership qualities, advocacy,
lobbying, presentation skills, good judgment, a real ability to sense
the atmosphere in a room and finely honed marketing experience. All of
those qualities will need to be combined with budgetary discipline and a
real appreciation of business planning and profitability issues.
It’s inevitable that ITV will, sooner or later, be allowed to
consolidate into a single-owned broadcaster. De facto the ITV Network
Centre will disappear as Carlton, United News and Media, Granada or a
third party run it as a division of a large publicly quoted media group.
The job is, therefore, likely to have a limited lifespan and the
successful candidate is going to be working among shareholders who, in
the forthcoming months, will increasingly mistrust each other. (Perhaps
that’s why I was mooted as a candidate.)
More informed and expert sources than I say that the success of ITV and
the Network Centre in the past two years has been a team effort and,
indeed, Eyre more than acknowledged this in his farewell speech. He has
provided the goals and direction for ITV’s renaissance as well as the
advocacy and lobbying skills, while David Liddiment has optimised the
programming mix. John Hardie has encouraged the viewers to sample.
No matter what the skills or personality of the new chief executive,
it’s potentially disruptive for the successful team and could easily
halt ITV’s forward momentum at the worst time. A new leader may not work
with the existing team and, by the time a new team is in place, half of
the Network Centre’s remaining life might be passed.
Were I in the invidious position of resolving this dilemma, I might opt
for promoting one or the other members of the successful team -
Liddiment or Hardie.
Choosing one might force the other to leave but choosing neither might
force both to go.
I don’t know either person and it would be inappropriate to comment on
their capabilities, but an appointment of one of these two on a brief of
continuing a successful strategy would seem to have much merit.
John Perriss is the chairman and chief executive of Zenith Media
Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.