GMTV programmes chief quits

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LIS HOWELL, director of programmes at GMTV, the breakfast television franchise, yesterday resigned three days after Greg Dyke, chief executive of London Weekend Television, was installed as chairman.

She is being replaced by Peter McHugh, 46, editor of The Time . . . The Place, the ITV daytime discussion programme. His swift instalment runs true to Mr Dyke's reputation as a hands-on manager capable of making wholesale changes. As news editor, Mr McHugh played a key part, with Mr Dyke, in helping turn around TV-am during 1984, after its disastrous launch. He started out in local newspapers before moving to the Daily Mail and the Sun.

GMTV, which replaced TV-am on 1 January, has found itself caught in a squeeze between the BBC's serious Breakfast News and the success of Channel 4's wacky Big Breakfast. Mr Dyke said on Friday that there had been 'not enough good popular stories and too many interviews with stars on couches'. Although still the most widely watched, it has lost 14.5 per cent of TV-am's audience.

Mr McHugh, who takes over on 8 March, said his task was to 'get more viewers, by making the programme more warm for them'.

He ruled out the need for a change in presenters. 'I've got to look at the whole programme: there are bits I like, bits I don't like. Basically what you have got is a programme which is the most successful breakfast show.'