Channel 5 boss Dawn Airey, seen by the ailing ITV network as the universal panacea for its myriad ills, has pen poised to sign on the dotted line, according to moles.
Dangling before Airey’s nose is British TV’s greatest challenge: to reverse the downward ratings spiral at the nation’s largest commercial broadcaster. Those who know the master-scheduler believe the dare could be an even greater bait than the numerous trailing zeros on her remuneration offer.
Charles Allen, chairman of ITV’s co-owner Granada Media, is reported to be personally involved in negotiations with Airey, and it is said that a key element in their conversations is the need for a far reaching revamp of the network’s senior management.
Says an admiring Granada/ITVmole: “There is a goodwill on both sides, and I don't think we are too far away. We’d like to get her and she’d like the job. She is a fighter with fire in her belly, and that is what ITV needs.”
But her colleagues at up-and-at-‘em Channel 5 are dismissive of the likelihood of Airey’s defection: “The last thing she wants to do is work for those deadbeats,” said a C5 source.
Meantime, some entrail-rakers have voiced concern at Allen’s near-total executive power at Granada, since his assumption of the duties of deposed chief executive Steve Morrison [WAMN: 30-Aug-02].
“While Morrison appears to be taking the fall for some of Granada's recent setbacks, we believe the market could be wary of Charles Allen’s somewhat enhanced leadership stance,” opined analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.
But the seers welcomed the additional duties handed to Granada directors Mick Desmond and Simon Shaps: “The increased responsibilities of two figures whom we feel are generally well respected in the business is reassuring.”
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff