One of ITV's most senior executives quit yesterday, saying he was unwilling to commit for five years, as the new chairman and chief executive continue to reshape the broadcaster.
Rupert Howell had been among the frontrunners to replace the former executive chairman Michael Grade when he stepped down last year. He announced yesterday that he would leave the board on Monday and quit his role as managing director of ITV's brand and commercial operations at the end July after less than three years. He is the ninth director to leave the broadcaster's board since December, as the new chairman, Archie Norman, and chief executive, Adam Crozier, have set about stamping their mark on the company.
The pair are reviewing the company's operations and are drawing up a strategic plan as the company looks to emerge from the worst advertising recession in living memory.
Mr Howell's background is in advertising. He founded the agency HHCL, which came up with memorable slogans for clients including Tango and Ronseal. He said in an internal memo yesterday that heading brand and commercial was "not a role within ITV that I want to commit to for the next three to five years and therefore I have agreed to leave".
ITV insiders said the chief executive and the chairman had been looking at the shape of the board as part of their review. One added: "He had been talked about for the top job, but after Adam was appointed, he wanted someone who could commit."
Mr Crozier, a former ad man himself, at Saatchi & Saatchi, who joined ITV in April, said: "Under Rupert's leadership, the commercial team has made significant progress in adapting to the challenges of the new media marketplace." He added: "We will continue on that journey, working in close partnership with our advertisers as we transform ITV's business over the next three to five years.
One senior industry analyst said: "The writing seemed to be on the wall when Crozier, another advertising man, was appointed. Howell seemed to take it lying down. Clearly that wasn't the case." The analyst added: "He is the consummate ad salesman of his generation. ITV's loss will be someone else's gain."