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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape