'Greg Dyke for ITV' Spin Machine Moves Into Top Gear

22 June 2004

Quondam BBC director-general Greg Dyke has on many occasions been touted as a possible replacement for ITV chief executive Charles Allen -- the latter having lost favour in certain quarters of Wall Street and London's financial square mile [WAMN: 02-Feb-04].

Until recently, this scenario had been mere media speculation fuelled by City of London axe-grinders. Now, however, the anti-Allen whisper campaign has assumed the intensity of an orchestrated spin offensive.

According to a report in last Sunday's The Observer, Dyke purportedly "has told friends he is very interested" in parking his posterior in the ITV hotseat. Needless to say, the "friends" are unidentified.

Furthermore, Anthony Bolton, a London-based fund manager with US firm Fidelity Investments, has for some while been gunning for Allen, holding him jointly responsible for the £1.2 billion ($2.18bn; €1.86bn) ITV Digital debacle.

Bolton has already efficiently despatched Allen's co-perpetrator of the digital disaster (former Carlton Television chairman Michael Green) and his sights have not wavered from Allen since. The Fidelity hit-man is said to be eager to replace him with the former BBC boss -- as allegedly is Deutsche Bank.

Allen is especially vulnerable at the moment, following expectations that ITV will this week confirm that its ratings and commercial impacts continue to slip [WAMN: 21-Jun-04].

The Observer quotes one unnamed analyst as opining: "If Dyke was appointed tomorrow, I reckon that [ITV's] shares would go up 30%."

[Some observers believe Bolton's actions regarding Allen and all else at ITV are directed to a single end: to prepare the UK's largest commercial broadcaster for takeover by Viacom or another of the US media titans.]

Data sourced from: The Observer; additional content by WARC staff