The resignation of Jim Hytner, marketing director of ITV, Britain's largest commercial TV network, will be formally announced today.

The high profile Hytner is to take a mirror role at UK banking giant Barclays where he will preside over a marketing budget exceeding £300 million ($551m; €454.73m) annually.

The world outside the media hothouse may interpret the marketer's departure as a body blow to ITV, especially at a time when it is expected to confirm that its ratings and commercial impacts continue to slip. But within the pressure cooker, some see a connection between this and Hytner's exit.

ITV chief executive Charles Allen is expected to present a detailed defence of its advertising and marketing strategy to investment analysts later this week, insisting that the ratings slippage is in line with market expectations and unlikely to result in any substantial loss of revenues.

Hytner's leave-taking comes in the wake of a major structural re-organisation of ITV's marketing department some months back, one consequence of which was the appointment of a new director of customer relationship management. But Hytner's friends within ITV refute reports he was irked at the revamp.

Despite his cross-town move, Hytner is expected to maintain close links with his old employer. As the bank's marketing supremo, he is responsible for Barclays' massive TV spend and its sponsorship of soccer's Premier League -- a major event in ITV's schedules.

Meantime, ITV has appointed headhunters Bird & Co to track down a replacement.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff