Stuart Prebble, chief executive of British commercial television network ITV, has resigned, the first high-profile casualty of the collapse of digital platform ITV Digital. He had been at the head of ITV for just a year, and has managed ITVd since July 1999.
“I came back to the ITV network centre a year ago to try to bring together ITV’s channels and platform business,” Prebble declared. “Unfortunately that role is now not available.”
Replacing him at the head of ITV are two joint managing directors: Clive Jones, chief executive of Carlton Channels; and Mick Desmond, managing director of Granada Broadcasting. The duo emanate from units of Carlton Communications and Granada Media, the two dominant shareholders in ITV and joint owners of ITV Digital.
Some onlookers claim the departing boss is carrying the can for the failings of others. “Prebble is only a scapegoat,” one ITV insider confided. “He didn’t have the clout to make the real decisions – that was Carlton and Granada, and when they merge in six months’ time [taken as granted once media laws have been relaxed] he would have been out of a job anyway.”
Meanwhile, despite the ITV Digital fiasco, culture, media and sport minister Tessa Jowell insists the government’s target date for analogue switch-off by 2010 is still achievable.
Responding to a select committee’s claim that the collapse of ITVd has dealt a “body blow” to the nation’s digital sector, Jowell revealed she expects the platform’s licenses to be sold off within six weeks, with expressions of interest from several bidders.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; Independent.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff