David Buik: Struggling giant is running out of options to get this right

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The Independent Online

The inordinate length of time it has taken ITV to find a new chairman suggests that this position is a poisoned chalice or, as we say in the trade, a "hospital pass".

Even the most eligible candidates felt that the position of chairman of ITV was an untenable one. Sir Crispin Davis has gracefully declined and Sir Michael Bishop decided even his skills would be wholly inadequate.

Who can blame existing shareholders for not increasing their support for ITV? Advertising revenues continue to decline and the Competition Commission and the Takeover Panel have been wholly unsympathetic to any suggestion of mergers involving Channel 4, Channel 5 or any other media operation for that matter.

Sky still remains the fly in the ointment with its 19 per cent stake in ITV. In the current climate, Sky will be in no hurry to sell, particularly as it paid 135p per share, though that sum of money in the grand strategic picture for News Corporation is but a mere bagatelle.

The most sensible course of action that ITV could now take would be to appoint a universally acceptable candidate as chief executive. Look no further than Rupert Howell, ITV's commercial and brand chief. A chairman will fall into place very quickly. In fact, ITV could be a huge success, if the regulatory bodies engaged other parts of their anatomy apart from their backsides.

David Buik is chief market strategist at BGC Partners