Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: ITV, Prepare for Hurricane Michael

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: ITV, Prepare for Hurricane Michael

Article excerpt

Michael Grade has had an early Christmas present from ITV. The 12.6m audience for The X Factor final suggests that, just occasionally, ITV can replicate one of its traditional old tricks - pull in a decent audience.

With Simon Cowell signing up for three more years - by coincidence the same length of contract enjoyed by Grade - one problem at least is already solved. That leaves about 99 to go.

When he takes his desk at his old 'home' in early January a few things will begin to happen quite rapidly - although not necessarily the ones people expect.

If history is any guide, Grade will launch an early charm offensive on ITV's leading advertisers, assuring them of his undivided attention and admiration. That is the part of the business that he can do something about in the short term by dispensing liberal doses of his legendary charm.

When he first went to Channel 4, Grade argued the case for the channel to the advertising community, made them feel good about themselves and helped to lift its ad revenue by about 10%.

Be prepared. You will have cigar smoke in your eyes and red socks in your face before 2007 is very old.

Then it will be time for some blood on the corporate carpet. With the exception of two knights of the realm, Sir George Russell - almost certainly responsible for landing ITV's big fish - and former Guardian Media Group stalwart Sir Bob Phillis, it's time to show the rest of the board the door.

New applicants should ideally know a bit about TV, with particular reference to rampant new technologies. It would also be good to have someone with genuine international media experience. Insularity has been an abiding sin of ITV for many years.

Would Greg Dyke be prepared to set aside enough of his ego to sit as a non-executive director on a Grade board, I wonder?

Once the board is sorted out, it will be time to tackle programmes. Expectations are high and instant magic is expected from Grade. At the very least, the headline writers presume that Simon Shaps will be sacked by the end of January and his seat filled by C4 director of programmes Kevin Lygo.

Instant drama may not be on the agenda. Grade must be painfully aware that little can be done about the programmes during the first 12 months. He has time to see whether the Shaps winter schedule cuts the mustard. …

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