Carlton Communications and Granada Media, the controlling shareholders in the ITV Network, have acted to replace the network’s former chief executive Stuart Prebble, who fell on his sword ten days ago after plummeting ratings and the ITV Digital debacle [WAMN: 03-May-02].

Instead of a single chief executive, the responsibility for running the network is now split between two joint managing directors – Mick Desmond from Granada Broadcasting and Enterprises, and Clive Jones, former chief executive of Carlton Channels. The appointments are believed by those in the know to signal the onset of merger between the two senior ITV franchisees

According to Desmond, they are charged with ending the “them and us” culture extant between the two companies. He and Jones will instead “reposition the network on two fronts: with the audience and with the advertisers”.

This will be achieved, say insiders, by diverting some of the millions squandered on ITVd – which bled cash at the reported rate of £1 million ($1.47m; €1.57m) a day – to reenergize the ITV programming budget.

This is currently capped at £747m annually but expectations of a top-up are high. “What you will see are some announcements coming out in the next few weeks and some of that will be financial. We have a clear statement of intent to focus on our core business,” hinted Desmond.

Ad agencies are also hopeful that the new duo will move to end the row over the issue of credit – which last week escalated into threats of a writ by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. [WAMN: 06-May-02].

The latter accused ITV of breaching the 1998 Competition Act by insisting that IPA members accede to unrealistic accreditation rules requiring agencies to secure bank guarantees or insurance bonds to cover the cost of their proposed media spend.

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