Former Mercury chief heads for Granada TV

Granada, the media and leisure giant, will next week announce the appointment of Duncan Lewis, former head of Mercury Communications, as the chief executive of its television operations. It will be the first time that a senior telecoms executive has run a major broadcasting group in the UK.

Confirmation of the appointment, expected next Tuesday, will coincide with the unveiling of a new management structure for Granada's television businesses, which include both Granada and London Weekend ITV companies.

Granada would not comment on the restructuring, but confirmed it would be addressing the staff of its television operations next week.

"We have no comment to make on internal or external candidates," Charles Allen, Granada's chief operating officer, said last night. Mr Lewis was unavailable for comment last night.

Mr Allen will become chairman of the television side next week when he takes over as group chief executive, Gerry Robinson, who currently holds that position, becomes group chairman, succeeding Alex Bernstein, who is retiring. Mr Lewis will report directly to Mr Allen, and in turn be responsible for the operating executives at Granada, LWT and the company's new cable and satellite arm.

A new name for the television operations will also be unveiled next Tuesday.

Mr Lewis, 45, left Mercury abruptly last September, after only nine months in the job. His departure shocked the City and the industry, as he had been credited with turning the telecoms company around. Mr Lewis was believed to have clashed with James Ross, then chief executive of Mercury's parent, Cable & Wireless, over the strategic direction of the group. It is thought that C&W had required Mr Lewis not to work in the telecoms industry for some months after he left.

Mr Lewis was also on the short list to become chief executive of Cable & Wireless after Mr Ross left in November. C&W was plunged into turmoil by a row between Mr Ross and Lord Young, then chairman, who also left the group. A successor for Mr Ross has yet to be announced.

Granada, which earlier this year clinched a pounds 3.8bn hostile bid for Forte, the hotels and restaurants group, is eager to underline its long-term commitment to television. Some analysts have suggested the Forte bid marked a shift away from the television and consumer equipment rentals interests which traditionally were the company's core.

The appointment of a telecoms executive underlines Granada's conviction that the communications and entertainment businesses are set for further convergence, following advances in technology.

In addition to the launch of satellite and cable services in the UK, the Government intends to encourage the development of digital terrestrial television and even video-on-demand services, offered via telephone and cable lines into homes and offices.

Many media analysts believe films and big sporting events could be soon be delivered by telephone on a pay-per-view basis, a prospect viewed as crucial to the long-term strategy of BT, the telecoms market leader.

Successful programme makers such as Granada are also expected to benefit from changes in the way entertainment is delivered to the consumer.

Mr Lewis's appointment may also be viewed as astute in the light of his experience running a company in competition with a dominant market player, in the form of BT. Granada has been eager to expand into cable and satellite entertainment services, a market currently dominated by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB.

Hedging its bets, Granada recently unveiled a joint venture with BSkyB to launch five satellite channels, including a Granada Gold, dedicated to broadcasting hits from Granada's programme library.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower