ITV sets shortlist as it moves to appoint new chief executive

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The Independent Online

The board of ITV met yesterday to decide on a shortlist of candidates for the vacant chief executive job at the broadcaster, with Stephen Carter still the firm favourite to be appointed to the position.

Others thought to be in the running include Stewart Till, 55, who runs United International Pictures, a joint venture between Paramount and Universal to distribute their films outside North America.

Mr Till's career in the film industry was preceded by a stint as deputy managing director at the satellite broadcaster BSkyB, between 1988 (just before its launch) and 1991, and, before that, he worked for the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi - on the business side.

ITV has been criticised for the amount of time it has taken to find a replacement for Charles Allen, who resigned as chief executive in August. Many believe that the board is split on the sort of candidate it wants for the post, leading to feverish speculation about possible contenders, ranging from "creative" types to those with a solid business background.

One senior media executive said: "The fundamental difficulty in predicting this [appointment] is that nobody knows, possibly including the ITV board, what the criteria is. [But] each day that passes is another missed programme schedule. It can't be that difficult."

The appointment of Mr Carter, who stepped down as chief executive of the media regulator Ofcom in the summer, would be welcomed by many in the City. Before Ofcom, he was managing director of the cable group NTL, and he previously ran the UK arm of advertising agency JWT.

Other names that have been linked to the ITV job include Endemol UK's chief creative officer Tim Hincks, BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith, and Rupert Gavin, the former BBC Worldwide boss, who now runs Odeon/UCI Cinemas. Roger Parry, the chairman of the newspaper publisher Johnston Press, has said he is interested in the job, but only if ITV accepts his plan for separating the channels and the programme production arms of the company.

A number of the "big names" in the television industry, such as Andy Duncan, the current chief executive of Channel 4, and Michael Jackson, the former chief executive of Channel 4, have ruled themselves out of the running or shown no interest in the position.

A media industry insider pointed out that ITV may choose a candidate from outside the television industry or from outside the UK. He said: "I see the same few names being recycled but ITV is a turnaround story and this could attract candidates that we don't know about."

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