Friday, September 25, 2009

ITV Fail To Engage

It seems that the UK's leading commercial broadcaster has failed to secure the services of its first choice CEO, Tony Ball, formerly head of Sky TV in the UK. My view is that the ITV board has been churlish - getting rid of Michael Grade as Chairman, who has decimated the company, and giving this guy a decent pay package based on rewards when he was willing to put £2m of his own money on the line don't seem unreasonable. Backdating the value of his shares was a bit more speculative.

This job is a hiding to nothing. No one is going to succeed in reversing the fortune of this company in a dollar to cents world. The best they can do is arrest the decline and perhaps look for a decent suitor. There's little doubt in my mind that Tony Ball would have sold ITV to Sky after courting Virgin to get the value up.

Perhaps the Board saw this, but now they have no answers to the predicament ITV is in.

To see a company of this stature and importance in the UK broadcasting landscape reduced to a bidding show is very sad.

But the real problem is that this is a company run by a guy who learnt everything he knows from his uncle, who ran a traditional film studio in the fifties. tells you why it's such a mess.

Rather than trying to ditch local broadcasting, ITV should be commercialising it. Rather than being a slave to fortune, ITV should employ people who see where the technology of TV is going and can help them evolve a generation.

Also, ITV needs to decide if it is a programme maker, a broadcaster or a service operator. These may sound aligned, but they are very different roles in the modern broadcast environment.

ITV does have some assets:

- a great back catalogue
- good ad salespeople
- some decent programme makers

But these are quickly replicable by anyone with a decent budget, even before going into the ways that all commercial broadcasting in the UK has been decimated by the ludicrous BBC tax on all television viewers.

Who would be silly enough to take on the biggest poison chalice in business without some guarantee of payback ?