Outgoing ITV network director in job talks with Granada

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The Independent Online
Marcus Plantin, the outgoing ITV network director, has held discussions with Granada Group about a job at the company, according to sources close to the media and leisure conglomerate.

Andrea Wonfer and Jules Burns, both joint managing directors of Granada Productions, have had talks with Mr Plantin about his future when he leaves his current post in the autumn.

During the past week, there has been speculation in the television industry that, following a structural review of Granada's broadcasting operations, Mr Plantin would take the post of head of entertainment. Senior industry sources said yesterday that Steve Morrison, chief executive of Granada Media, would head up the structure, with Mr Burns as his deputy.

However, a spokesman for Granada said last night: "There are no plans to change Granada's divisional structure. The only appointments outstanding are controller of drama at Granada Television and controller of drama at LWT. There are no plans to recruit for any other senior creative positions."

Mr Plantin, who announced in May that he was to stand down as network director after five years in the post, could not be contacted last night. Mr Plantin would be well-placed to take on senior creative responsibilities at Granada as, during his time at ITV, he introduced dramas such as Prime Suspect, Heartbeat and Cracker. He also pioneered extra weekly episodes of Coronation Street and Emmerdale in a drive to increase ITV's audiences at the expense of the BBC.

A reorganisation of Granada's broadcasting portfolio would be timely as the group has recently expanded its television holdings through its pounds 700m bid for Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television at the end of June. Once the takeover is completed, the group will control four ITV franchise areas: Granada, Yorkshire, Tyne Tees and LWT. It has also increased its commitment to UK television by taking a 50 per cent stake in British Digital Broadcasting, the group, owned jointly with Carlton Communications, which won three licences to broadcast digital terrestrial television almost two months ago.

In addition, Granada has stakes in BSkyB, GMTV and ITN, and operates a number of satellite channels in a joint venture with Sky. The company also supplies around 40 per cent of ITV's original programming.

The recent appointment of Stewart Butterfield, formerly director of advertising and sales at Channel 4, suggested that changes were afoot. Mr Butterfield will take David Liddiment's role as managing director of Granada UK broadcasting. He will take responsibility for Laser, the television sales house, and Granada's ITV licences. A role was being created for Mr Liddiment within Granada's media division. Mr Liddiment is thought to be a front-runner for the post of ITV's director of programmes.