ITV companies back network shake-up

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The Independent Online
The 11 ITV companies are to consider a radical plan to set up a new management structure for the Network Centre and the ITV Association, industry sources said last night, writes Mathew Horsman.

The plan, which has the backing of at least three leading ITV companies, would see a managing director appointed to a new company, ITV Ltd, responsible for the network schedule and other ITV-wide activities.

"There is a general perception that there needs to be an accountable structure for the network director and the commissioning staff at Network Centre," a senior ITV broadcaster said yesterday. "The current system is not accountable, either for ratings or for administration."

Sources stressed that the new system would leave intact the regional nature of the ITV system. Requirements governing commissioning at Network Centre, as regulated by the Independent Television Commission, would also be respected.

However, the reorganisation will be seen by many as a further step toward creating a single "Channel 3" brand in the UK, capable of responding to the ratings challenge posed by cable, satellite and the new Channel 5 terrestrial service.

The plan is also consistent with the increasing consolidation of ITV ownership, which could lead to the whole of ITV being controlled by just two or three companies. The market widely expects Yorkshire-Tyne Tees to be bought by Granada, while HTV is believed to be in the sights of either United News & Media or Carlton Communications.