Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bazalgette Is an Innovator but Is He Good Enough to Save ITV? Media Analysis

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bazalgette Is an Innovator but Is He Good Enough to Save ITV? Media Analysis

Article excerpt

Byline: Roy Greenslade

THE changing of the guard at ITV was well under way before this week's appointment of Sir Peter Bazalgette as the broadcaster's non-executive chairman to replace Archie Norman.

In quick succession, there have been several departures from ITV of key senior creative executives, including head of factual, Richard Klein, director of television, Peter Fincham, and director of entertainment Elaine Bedell.

Bazalgette is experienced enough to understand that such changes are part of the traditional television merry-go-round rather than some kind of collective act in order to sabotage the channel. And he will doubtless be heartened by the fact that Fincham's replacement is the widely respected Kevin Lygo. New man, new ideas.

During his time at Channel 4, Lygo enjoyed success with programmes such as TFI Friday and Smack the Pony. He also famously commissioned Big Brother, the programme made by Bazalgette's production company, Endemol. He may well prove an inspired choice.

Even so, the incoming ITV chairman knows he has a tough task ahead of him. Although ITV is profitable it is not fashionable. Although it continues to make money, its audience appears to be drifting away, suggesting that too great a decline will eventually impinge on advertising revenue.

ITV's chief executive, Adam Crozier, has stressed that the company's commercial performance is based on being able to offer advertisers an "unrivalled ability to reach mass audiences". The danger is that ITV could be heading for a tipping point.

As everybody recognises, Downton Abbey performed well, but that was a one-off phenomenon and a single series -- no matter how glitteringly successful -- cannot compensate for viewers' apparent reluctance to switch often enough to Britain's first commercial channel. …

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