Magazine article Marketing

The Tough Job of Filling Richard Eyre's Chair

Magazine article Marketing

The Tough Job of Filling Richard Eyre's Chair

Article excerpt

Where will ITV turn to replace Richard Eyre as its chief executive? Conor Dignam draws up a headhunter's list

There's a new game in town. After months of 'guess who's going to be the new DG of the BBC', we can now play 'guess who'll fill the chair left by Richard Eyre'. The Situation Vacant ad for ITV's top job would list good communication skills as a priority, the ability to motivate and lead a team, to handle the demands of several bosses from the ITV companies, and to build and maintain a rapport with the commercial customers - the advertisers.

So who will take over? Let's start at the most logical place, ITV itself. David Liddiment, ITV's programming chief, and John Hardie, its marketing and commercial director, are not serious contenders.

Liddiment is a creative, a programme ideas man, who probably wouldn't want the job. Hardie, a former Procter & Gamble marketer, might, but is thought too inexperienced to take on such a big role. In fact, the main concern of ITV at the moment will be ensuring that the highly valued Liddiment stays put.

Other names in the ITV frame include Clive Jones, chief executive of Carlton TV, Steve Morrison at Granada, and Malcolm Wall at United. Stuart Butterfield, the former marketing chief at Channel4 and now managing director of Granada UK Broadcasting, might also be a possible candidate, and would be favourite from within the ITV ranks.

Then there are the two key sales executives, Martin Bowley and Mick Desmond. Might the network do the unthinkable and appoint someone from the sales side of the table? It's unlikely. In fact, the powers that be would probably prefer a safe pair of hands, who won't rock the boat over the next couple of years as ITV moves toward the point where it can consolidate further, even creating one ITV company.

Terrestrial contenders

So, if it's not ITV, what about the other main terrestrial channels? At Channel 4 there is David Elstein, TV's 'Two Brains', who probably wouldn't want the job of sorting out spats between the competing ITV siblings. Michael Jackson at Channel 4 is also a non-starter. So let's jump down a rung.

Jim Hytner, the marketing chief at Channel 5? Highly thought of, but too big a job, too soon. The same could probably be said of David Brook, who runs brand strategy at Channel 4. And he's more a Guardian/Channel 4 man than ITV, anyway.

Over at BSkyB, there is one interesting candidate. Tough, widely respected,who has built the Sky One brand into a much more formidable force, and is successfully shifting Sky's branding away from its macho image. She's also used to working for a demanding boss. But it's hardly likely Elisabeth Murdoch would be on the headhunter's list for the job.

But since we've mentioned Sky, what about Sam Chisholm's old right-hand man, David Chance? The ex-BSkyB managing director has strong links to Premier League clubs, the ability to cut good deals, and isn't easily cowed by overbearing bosses. But he's now a very wealthy man, and, once again, it's unlikely the quasi-autonomy of the ITV role would appeal. …

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