Ambitious Green jumps the gun

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL GREEN and Rupert Murdoch have at least two things in common. Both are among the most unpopular characters in the media industry and both are among its smoothest and most successful operators, writes Gail Counsell.

Among the more cynical reasons proffered for Mr Green's determination to jump the gun and bid for Central before the Mother of Parliaments has had her say was the fact it is his 46th birthday on Thursday and he was determined to buy himself something he really wanted.

Yet the real reason is more likely to lie in his entrepreneurial ambition. A combative interviewee - who rarely talks to journalists - he attracts admiration and scepticism in equal measure.

His critics acknowledge the drive and determination of a self- made man, but worry that he is more interested in turning Carlton Communications into an international media empire than in quality programme making.

Born in north London to middle-class parents - Cyril Green, who built up the Tern shirt company, and Irene, a psychologist - he left school with four 'O' levels.

By the age of 20 he had bought his first company, the Direct Mail Centre. It was losing money but he produced a profit by selling its property assets and re-investing the proceeds in the renamed group, Tangent Industries.

An early run-in with television was in 1985, when he attempted a bid for Thames. That ambition went unsatisfied until 1991 when he outbid the group for the London weekday franchise.

He is no stranger to political controversy. After it was alleged he had given pounds 15,000 to the Conservative Party, it was suggested that he should be barred from the chairmanship of ITN.