Grade in shock move to ITV

GradeITV has confirmed that BBC chairman Michael Grade has been appointed as its new executive chairman.

The broadcaster says Grade will start in the role early next year. He will replace current chairman Peter Burt to become executive chairman with responsibility for the business of the company. ITV has been without a boss since former chief executive Charles Allen said he would step down in August.

It comes just ten days after Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB bought 18% of ITV to block a potential merger with cable television operator NTL.

Grade, who was BBC1 controller in the 1980s rejoined the corporation in 2004.

The BBC last night issued a statement which read: "Clearly this is a surprise, especially at this moment." His departure comes just weeks before the Government is due to decide on the level of the licence fee over the next five to seven years. He had also been due to take over as chairman of the BBC Trust, the new body due to replace the board of governors next year as part of changes instituted by the Government.

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