Capital Radio chief on brink of joining ITV

Capital Radio's chief executive, Richard Eyre, is on the verge of quitting the radio group to join ITV in the newly created position of chief executive.

Mr Eyre, who has been with the radio group for six years, is understood to have been offered the post and is expected to accept this week. ITV is also believed to have one other candidate in the frame as a fall-back option. ITV and Capital declined to comment yesterday.

The new chief executive will oversee the creation of an ITV Limited to replace the Network Centre and ITV Association structure. Mr Eyre would have executive responsibility for the commercial network rather than simply the scheduling role of outgoing Network Centre chief Marcus Plantin.

The purpose of ITV Limited is to stop the in-fighting between ITV's three biggest broadcasters, Granada, Carlton and United News & Media. Competition between the three is deemed to have harmed the network's ability to compete with the BBC, Channel 4 and BSkyB and prevented the development of a coherent strategy for the multi-channel age.

While the BBC has stemmed the loss of viewers arising from the competition of subscription satellite and cable services, ITV has watched its share of viewing erode from more than 36 per cent at the beginning of the Nineties to below 32 per cent in latest estimates.

Ironically, the rethink for ITV comes as advertising revenues are soaring on the back of high advertiser demand due to the consumer boom.

Mr Eyre's remuneration package from ITV is believed to be worth in the region of pounds 500,000. Christine Walker, former chief executive of Cordiant's media buying subsidiary, Zenith Media, is known to have been offered the post earlier in the summer. Another strong candidate is believed to have been Carlton's chief executive, Clive Jones.

Mr Eyre joined Capital ahead of the four-year boom in radio advertising revenue that saw the sector grow by more than 25 per cent each year.

He oversaw the company's expansion in independent local radio. More recently he took the group into the leisure sector with the purchase of themed restaurant chain My Kinda Town last year for pounds 51m.

In May it was announced that Capital was proposing to buy Virgin Radio from Richard Branson. That deal is still to be cleared by the Radio Authority.

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