Former ITV chief executive Richard Eyre, talking to UK Sunday broadsheet The Observer, dubbed as “disastrous” the plans for restructuring the network currently being peddled by David Elstein [WAMN: 26-Aug-03].

Elstein, quondam ceo of Five, Britain's smallest terrestrial TV channel, has been huckstering his alternative management plan to ITV investors and City of London institutions.

This advocates replacing ITV’s current squad of senior executives with a team of Elstein’s selection, while slashing a further £30 million from costs by outsourcing £100 million of inhouse programme-making. All of which might carry more conviction had Five succeeded in emerging from the red under Elstein’s leadership

Eyre, who left ITV to become ceo of Pearson Television and now chairs the UK’s Interactive Advertising Bureau among other non-executive directorships, said that Elstein is the “wrong guy and it’s the wrong plan for ITV”.

He endorsed the view of BBC director general Greg Dyke who last week urged the government to drop ITV’s £300m broadcast licence fees to enable it to remain one of “the three big gorillas” of the UK broadcast scene [WAMN: 27-Aug-03]. “I think it’s exceptionally important that ITV does play part of a Big Three,” Eyre opined.

The fate of ITV’s planned merger will be revealed within the next fourteen days when the Department of Trade and Industry pronounces on the recommendations of the Competition Commission.

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