Grade’s replacement must focus on ITV’s core business

ITV’s replacement for departing executive chairman Michael Grade will need to spend the first 100 days addressing further cost-cutting measures, the creation of a pay-TV strategy and an online action plan, say analysts.

They suggest that the new chief executive’s immediate concerns will include focusing on what ITV’s core business should be in order to survive over the next five years.

“They’ve got to be really brutal about whether ITV’s future is better off as a broadcaster or a producer,” says Enders Analysis media analyst Toby Syfret.

“It will need to move away from Michael Grade’s vague and woolly content-led strategy, which never looked realistic.”

The recession has exposed ITV’s over-reliance on advertising revenues and Richard Oliver, Universal McCann managing partner investment, says: “It needs to diversify and broaden its revenue streams as it tried to do with Friends Reunited. Though in that case it didn’t work out.”

ITV has seen its ad revenue fall by nearly 20% in the first few months of this year, and the restrictions the Contract Rights Renewal system placed on ITV1 have proved burdensome.

While opinion remains divided over Grade’s tenure at the top job since his entrance in January 2007, there are even bigger question marks over who might succeed him.

Internal contenders potentially include chief operating officer John Cresswell, director of TV Peter Fincham and managing director of commercial and brand Rupert Howell, who is a former advertising executive.

Externally, the frontrunners include former BSkyB ceo Tony Ball, Five chair and chief executive Dawn Airey, former Channel 4 chief exec Michael Jackson and Minister for Communications, Technology & Broadcasting Stephen Carter.

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