ITV Chairman Meets With Ex-BBC Boss Greg Dyke

16 April 2004

According to a report in Thursday's The Guardian newspaper, former BBC director general Greg Dyke recently met with the new chairman of ITV, Sir Peter Burt. The meeting reportedly "went well".

Silence, however, reigns as to the content of their chummy chat. Did David Beckham cheat on former Spice Girl Victoria? George Bush's re-election prospects? How much the UK still owes the US in outstanding World War One debt?

Perhaps any (or all) of those riveting subjects. Or maybe -- just maybe -- they got around to discussing the prospect of Dyke becoming ITV's chief executive in place of incumbent Charles Allen?

The rumour mill has been working overtime on that possibility, following last fall's ousting of ITV chairman-designate Michael Green by a cabal of disgruntled investors led by influential fund manager Anthony Bolton, the London Tsar of US-owned Fidelity Investments.

Word around the EC2 parish pump is that Bolton plans a similar fate for Allen, at the same time speaking publicly in glowing terms of Dyke, who recently quit the BBC as its ritual sacrifice to the Blair administration. Bolton reportedly has since spoken privately with Dyke.

Green's nemesis is not alone among ITV investors in his admiration for the former Beeb boss. "You've got your future chairman [in Greg Dyke]," Anthony de Larrinaga , SG Securities media analyst told The Guardian just before that post went to Burt. "He knows the business, he's reasonably robust, he has all the qualifications."

But the current flurry of rumours is at odds with Burt's recent carefully crafted statement that Allen's job was safe. "I would not have accepted the [chairman's] job if my first task had been to get rid of the chief executive," he said. "That would have been absolutely daft."

Allen has also recently been on the receiving end of a juicy new incentive package that could net him £21 million ($39m; €32m) over the next four years [WAMN: 7-Apr-04]. But as many walking wounded in the media business have learned, neither reassuring words nor fiscal carrots guarantee you won't walk the platinum plank.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff