According to The Guardian newspaper, Charles Allen, ceo of Britain's largest commercial television company, has told senior colleagues his days at the ITV helm are nearing their end.
The rumour mill has it that a group of investors recently approached ITV chairman Sir Peter Burt to demand Allen's head, after which the latter sought a temporary stay of execution to create the illusion of a planned voluntary departure.
One anonymous analyst, speaking on Monday to The Guardian, told the newspaper that the company's top ten investors had been "clearly looking for management change" in recent weeks.
It is an open secret that disquiet is rife among US and UK investors over ITV's performance during the past two years, in which time Allen has presided over a slump in share price, declining ad revenues and a significant drop in audience levels at flagship channel ITV1.
Amid the welter of speculation there is one incontestable fact: that Allen has told senior associates - among them commercial director Ian McCulloch and director of television Simon Shaps - he is "openly looking at options" for his succession.
Meantime, industry observers note an interesting correlation between the stories of Allen's impending exit and the earlier-than-expected departure of Stephen Carter (41), chief executive of UK media regulator Ofcom [WAMN: 21-Jul-06].
Carter, formerly due to leave at the end of October, raised industry eyebrows last week by bringing forward his departure to the end of this month. He would be a not inappropriate candidate for the senior role at ITV, his resumé including stints as ceo of JWT UK and managing director of US-owned British cable giant NTL.
More to the point, Carter's turn at the tiller of NTL while it was undergoing a massive financial restructuring earned him some influential friends among the moneymen.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff