Wind of change will soon blow through CharlesAllen's ITV

ITV looks to be on the brink of change. Its share price has been hovering below 100p - not a good thing, given that in March its chief executive, Charles Allen, and his board rejected a bid of 130p from a Greg Dyke-led consortium as not in the interests of shareholders.

Since then, the World Cup has been a commercial disaster and summer fodder such as Love Island has not been doing the business. Allen and his board have also been accused of belatedly bumbling into online by overpaying for Friends Reunited.

Allen is said to be considering his future after close to ten years at the top at Granada and then ITV plc. One of two scenarios seems most likely: (a) that he steps down elegantly ahead of ITV's interim results on 9 August or (b) that he hangs on to resign next year - assuming that shareholders or a successful bidding consortium do not oust him first.

Allen has faced huge issues, the biggest of which is the fragmentation of his mass audiences at a time when advertisers are tightening media budgets. Having said that, critics say somebody with more vision would have invested in multichannel earlier (or made a go of ITV Digital) and carved out a successful online/broadband strategy. ITV's long-term strategy (50 per cent of ITV revenue from non-ITV1 spot ads by 2010) is sound in theory, but could come too late for some shareholders.

Allen and his team have attempted to address falling ITV1 ad revenues by grumbling about Contract Rights Renewal rather than investing heavily in programming or carrying out major surgery on the channel. Advertisers have called for better programmes, especially comedy and drama, but are witnessing ITV push for the abolition of CRR, something that could only lead to higher prices on ITV1 with no guarantee this revenue would be returned to programmers.

If Allen does go, it will be interesting to see whether his commercial lieutenants - the commercial director, Ian McCulloch, and the managing director of sales, Gary Digby - shoulder some of the blame. They should be OK: a strategy of blaming the difficult TV ad market and Simon Shaps' programming department usually does the trick when ad revenues look depressingly thin.

One thing in favour of the status quo is that nobody is quite sure who should succeed Allen. Many of ITV's customers want to see somebody with a creative (ie. programme-making) background. This doesn't apply to the outgoing Ofcom chief, Stephen Carter, but then customers don't decide who runs ITV. Otherwise, step forward Dyke with a renewed bid, or, as an outsider, Malcolm Wall, ntl's head of content, a former ITV man who has been linked in the past to bids for the broadcaster. Whatever happens, expect a lively few months at Gray's Inn Road.

ian.darby@haynet.com.