ITV chief Rupert Howell takes on "unjust" critics

Rupert Howell, the incoming managing director of brand and commercial at ITV, has hit back at critics who have branded him a commercial chief with no TV sales experience.

Howell, who joins the broadcaster next month, has turned on critics who have questioned his lack of programming, TV or airtime experience in an exclusive interview with Marketing Week.

Howell says such criticisms are misguided, and stem from a misunderstanding of his “broader remit”. He replaces commercial director Ian McCulloch, who resigned in May, but will also be responsible for the marketing team.

Howell says: “What is the point of hiring another sales person when you have got Gary [Digby, ITV customer relations director] already?

“I understand enough about the airtime market, although I’m not an expert. ITV wanted someone who can come in and question current practices.

“If you’re going to change things you have to look at doing things differently. If I was just one of the usual suspects, I think it would be demotivating to the people already here.”

He will also be “guardian” of the ITV brand, which faces increasingly fierce competition from multimedia rivals and is itself diversifying, but denies he will interfere with group marketing director David Pemsell’s remit.

Howell insists the result of ITV’s advertising review, which is between DDB London, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Mother, will be “100% Pemsell’s decision”.

He claims that “bold initiatives” will mark his tenure and says that the “renaissance” of the commercial broadcaster has already started while rivals Channel 4 and Five are struggling in the market. However, he insists that ITV will not focus on its competition, as it has been accused of in the past.

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