First chief of ITV to cost network pounds 500,000 a year

ANDREW QUINN, the chief executive of Granada Television, is to be the first chief executive of ITV, in charge of organising the channel's pounds 500m a year annual output of networked programmes.

The three-year appointment of Mr Quinn, 55, which involves ensuring his pension rights are unaffected, will cost ITV approaching pounds 500,000 a year. It will also have to pay a substantial sum to headhunters charged by ITV to search out the key senior staff for the new network organisation.

Mr Quinn said his strategy was one of ensuring viewers had continuity rather than change for the sake of change. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The ITV programme schedule is extremely powerful, doing a first class job.' ITV should remain the dominant popular channel in the 1990s, he said, while satellite increasingly devised pay channels.

Mr Quinn said that the major 'landmark' programmes of ITV should remain. Granada's World in Action current affairs programme, whose survival at 8.30pm is seen as a key test of ITV's drive towards commercialism, should be able to stay in its peak time slot, provided it was popular, able to deliver average audiences of 8 million compared with the current 7.5 million.

Innovative programming should not be abandoned in an attempt to keep advertisers happy. 'I hope and I believe that ITV will be prepared to go on experimenting - that there is a 'right to fail' margin so you can put on an innovative show.'

All the same, ITV would be freed to experiment with commercial formats, such as programming the same show five nights a week, though there were no plans for Coronation Street to expand from thrice-weekly. ITV, under him, would have to be far sharper, carry out more professional audience research, to work out what should be in the programme schedule, and make programmes, such as drama, more rapidly.

But ITN's News at Ten could shift to 10.30pm. Mr Quinn said he would try to persuade the Independent Television Commission to extend its definition of prime time to 11pm, rather than ruling that it ceases at 10.30pm. Under the licences granted to ITV the companies are required to provide the news in peak time.

Mr Quinn is widely respected for his managerial skills, his firm grasp of the new commercial realities facing ITV - Granada under his guidance bid low and retained its franchise - and his role in devising the new network arrangements, which he will now have to put into practice. The new network organisation Mr Quinn will set up will employ about 60 people.

(Photograph omitted)