Ray Snoddy On Broadcasting

Headhunters have a tough job to recruit a saviour for declining ITV

As Charles Allen loads his pantechnicon with used £50 notes before saying goodbye as ITV chief executive, one thing is clear: nothing has changed and no problem has been solved as a result of his assisted decision to depart and avoid more bullets.

He has had a good 15-year run in commercial television from his early days as "assistant caterer" to Sir Gerry Robinson at Granada and has done many of the right things. The "courageous" successor will find him or herself dealing with very similar intractable problems. They will also continue to implement Allen's perfectly rational strategy of diversifying away from near total reliance on ITV1 towards multi-channel and increased online revenue.

As headhunters sharpen their pencils for one of their toughest assignments there is one horrendous problem to be dealt with - the collapse of ITV1's audience, particularly among key groups most interesting to advertisers. When BBC1 first overtook ITV1 in annual audience share the spinners claimed that it did not really matter because ITV still dominated peak time, where its money was made. Now, there is nowhere to hide as the final bastion has fallen. In the past six weeks BBC1 had an average share of 25.9 per cent compared with 22.5 per cent for ITV1 between 7pm and 10.30 pm.

Apologists will mutter "World Cup", but this defeat is a symptom of systemic failure as ITV1 has lost all-important youth and upmarket audiences in droves over the past few years.

Charles Allen may not have been a programme-maker but he has to take ultimate responsibility for such a scheduling and commissioning failure which goes to the heart of the business. The rise of multi-channel television is a problem for all terrestrial broadcasters but ITV1 has fared much worse in both weekly reach and viewing hours than either Channel 4 or Five. The comparison is particularly bleak for both upmarket ABC 1 viewers and 16- to 34-year-olds.

Channel 4 now has an average weekly reach among the young that is only marginally behind ITV1, which is supposed to be the dominant mass-market channel. One working hypothesis is that there is not enough diversity in the ITV schedule - not enough reasons to attract the wider public. If more and more people feel that ITV1 is not for them the declining spiral could continue, with digital channels a mere palliative.

Everything now depends on halting and reversing the audience decline. The autumn schedule had better be good. Because of the contract rights renewal (CRR) deal that allowed the merger of Granada and Carlton to go ahead, advertisers have the right to reduce their spending on advertising in line with audience decline. The fall could cost ITV more than £200m a year.

You could take Simon Shaps, head of ITV's Granada production division, out at dawn but he has not been in charge of the new set-up long enough for his commissioning record to be judged. The nature of the challenge suggests strongly that while accountants, lawyers, former regulators, marketing men and even retailers might have their merits they are not ideal for this challenge. You almost certainly need someone who has run commercial television channels in the UK - preferably with some experience of programme making and commissioning.

This narrows the list considerably - to Greg Dyke, the former head of London Weekend Television, Andy Duncan, chief executive of Channel 4, and Dawn Airey, former head of Five and now in charge of Sky Networks.

Dyke is unlikely to want the 24-hours-a-day aggravation, Duncan will probably prefer to wait for a crack at the BBC and Airey turned the job down once and is probably dreaming of multi-millions running Murdoch channels in the US. This time, the headhunters will earn their money. While finding the right chief executive could scarcely be more vital, advertisers will also have to play their part. Ian McCulloch, ITV's commercial director, has been bluntly asking major advertisers what sort of ITV1 they want. Do they want a mainstream channel with original programming and drama? If so, it will cost more than £800m. If they want a £100m channel made up largely of acquisitions, they can have that too. It is simply a matter of business.

Without exception the advertisers said that they wanted a properly funded channel. But will they put their money where their mouth is when Charles Allen has gone? For all concerned it is already very late in the day.

Morrison's a happy bunny

If you see Steve Morrison, chief executive of All3Media, the UK's largest independent producer, it will be easy to recognise him. He's the one with the ear-to-ear grin.

Morrison was eased out as chief executive of Granada four years ago as the fall guy for the ITV Digital débâcle. It fact, it had been Sir Gerry Robinson who was the enthusiast, with Charles Allen a reluctant convert, leaving Morrison to take the flak. Morrison was entitled to a quiet chuckle as Allen fell on his sword.

But the real reason Morrison is a happy bunny is the deal that saw the venture capital giant Permira take control of All3Media, maker of Shameless and Hollyoaks among others, in a £320m deal. Morrison bought the company from Chrysalis three years ago for £45m, although it has been greatly expanded since.

All3Media now has the financial firepower to do almost anything. Wouldn't it be a hoot if it were to bid for ITV? Don't worry; Morrison's too smart to do that, but watch him pounce on other large independents.

Voices
voices
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
newsBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried