Steve Morrison - It's all in the timing for the man who found life after ITV - Media - News - The Independent

Steve Morrison - It's all in the timing for the man who found life after ITV

We're all interested in the fate of companies we used to work for. But as the chief executive of All3Media looking back on his troubled former employer, Steve Morrison is more so than most. By Raymond Snoddy

Of all those connected with the sorry saga of ITV, Steve Morrison, chief executive of All3Media, the UK's largest independent producer, has definitely emerged with the biggest smile on his face.

The career of the former Granada Media Group chief executive appeared to be over in 2002 when he became the sacrificial victim to offer the City for the £1.3 billion ITV Digital debacle. If anyone was leaving, it clearly wasn't going to be his fellow-Glaswegian Charles Allen, who was then the chairman of Granada and was soon to be anointed chief executive of ITV.

Instead of disappearing, Morrison cannily linked up with two former Granada colleagues, David Liddiment and Jules Burns, to found All3Media. With the support of the private equity group Bridgepoint, the three bought the television interests of Chrysalis for £45 million and launched the most extraordinary acquisition spree to buy up huge swathes of the independent television production sector.

"At the time I wouldn't have given him a one in 10 chance of pulling this off," says one former colleague. Now with ITV in the greatest turmoil in its history, Morrison sits on top of an empire of 10 independents including Mersey Television (Hollyoaks, Grange Hill), Bentley Productions (Midsomer Murders), Assembly TV (Black Books), Cactus TV (Richard & Judy) and North One (Formula One).

As All3Media was sold in the summer to the multi-billion US venture capitalists Permira, Morrison is also very, very rich. And he is also basking in the glory of a new, acclaimed feature film Mischief Night, which was launched earlier this month by Company Pictures, yet another part of All3Media.

Nowadays nothing would tempt Morrison back to ITV - not that anybody is asking. "I think I have spent long enough in there. I'm really enjoying myself and hope we will build a bigger production business."

He is believed to have earned between £10 million and £15 million from the Permira deal. When Permira sells or goes for a stockmarket float within the next five years there will be more millions for Morrison.

Although best known for his commercial television work in more than 28 years at ITV, Morrison was also executive producer on a number of Granada feature films. Posters of My Left Foot (a double Oscar winner), The Field, and Jack and Sarah fill the wall behind his office desk.

He is once again one of the most influential figures in British television. If Morrison gloats, he does it in private. "It's all water under the bridge. They are all my friends. I want them all to succeed. They can get out of this."

Of course he has a vested interest in ITV's recovery. "I hope the ITV board will appoint a new chief executive of stature [and] advertisers will stay and keep their investment."

The All3Media chief executive believes it is time for ITV to get rid of the CRR (contract rights renewal) scheme which allows advertisers to keep their discounts if they reduce their spending in line with falling audiences. It's a mechanism they have taken advantage of to reduce their spending on ITV by more than £200 million a year.

Television advertising is returning to growth in virtually every developed country - apart from the UK - and Morrison is convinced the CRR is a factor.

"Because the advertiser has a buying plan based on the premium price, which is the ITV price, if that part of the market goes down it tends to have a ripple effect on the other TV channels and maybe on other media."

His three-year plan would involve the abolition, or reform, of the CRR and commitments by ITV to maintain spending on programme schedules and by advertisers to continue to fund the channel properly. Naturally he also wants Channel 4 to do well - All3 Media makes Richard & Judy, Shameless and Hollyoaks for the channel. A good licence fee settlement for the BBC wouldn't go amiss either.

Lion Television, another All3Media company, has won the BBC commission to make a second series of Castaway, this time set on a remote island off the New Zealand coast. It will run on BBC One and BBC Three for nearly three months.

All3 has the ability to do almost anything it chooses in the independent sector. Ron Jones, executive chairman of Tinopolis, owners of independents such as Mentorn, sees All3Media as " an elephant in the living room. It could buy all the independents on the public market. At the corporate end the market is potentially out of everyone's control."

Morrison is dismissive of the notion that a bid for anything is imminent and deflects the question by saying that they always have a look at potential targets, just in case.

Morrison is optimistic about the future of television despite the arrival of potential new rivals for attention and advertising revenue such as YouTube. This he sees as "a very progressive development" and that the professional media should find a way of turning user-generated content into a latter-day version of You've Been Framed.

The company is already involved in new media outlets such as making "mobisodes" of Hollyoaks for mobile phones and broadband. There will be a bigger move into multi-media "when it becomes real" and increasingly involvement in worldwide advertiser-sponsored programming.

"If you add up these areas..." Morrison does not feel the need to add any words. He just ends the sentence with another smile of the sort you don't see in ITV these days.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketing Manager / Dig...

Brand Manager / Account Manager

£28 - 36k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Senior Account Manager is nee...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Director of Programming and Industry Engagement

£40k - £50k depending on experience: Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield Doc/Fest is...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week