Grade steps down as executive chairman at ITV

Broadcaster ITV has begun its search for a new chief executive after it confirmed Michael Grade (pictured) will step down at the end of the year.

Grade will relinquish executive responsibilities to become non-executive chairman at the end of the year, while the broadcasters seeks to appoint a new chief “as soon as is practicable” following the outcome of the current regulatory reviews, no later than the end of the year.

ITV, which recently reported a 41% plummet in profits due to the recessionary advertising slump, also said it was taking measures to improve is finances, including selling its digital terrestrial multiplex business SDN.

The broadcaster paid £135m for SDN in 2005, which at the time operated 10 digital channels including Five, QVC, UKTV Gold, ABC1, Discovery and Cartoon Network.

Grade left his position as BBC chairman to join ITV in January 2007 and succeeded Peter Burt as chairman and took up former chief executive Charles Allen’s responsibilities.

When he was appointed it was assumed that he would appoint a chief executive within a relatively short period of time.

Under Grade’s tenure as chief executive ITV has struggled to maintain advertising revenues in the face of a shift in patterns of media consumption and the overall downturn in the economy.

He has challenged the Contract Rights Renewal system imposed when Granada and Carlton merged since his appointment. CRR restrictions meant that ITV has had to lower ad revenue rates along with declining audience figures. The Office of Fair Trading has recommended that the rules be relaxed.

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