ITV seeks chief executive as Michael Grade steps down

ITV is looking for a new boss after announcing today that Michael Grade will step down to become non-executive chairman before the end of the year.

Grade is set to relinquish his role as executive chairman after the end of a series of regulatory reviews in the broadcasting sector.

ITV, which has been battered by an advertising slump, also confirmed it was not planning to ask shareholders for more money in a rights issue after reviewing options to boost its balance sheet.

The broadcaster said: “Michael Grade has recommended to the board that the conclusion of the regulatory reviews will be the right time for him to relinquish his executive responsibilities and become non-executive chairman, as planned.”

It hopes to appoint a new chief executive “as soon as practicable”. An appointment will be made no later than the end of this year, according to ITV.

Grade, who switched from the BBC to take the ITV job in November 2006, has also worked at London Weekend Television and spent more than nine years as chief executive of Channel 4 Television.

Grade has faced a number of battles during his time at the broadcaster. His first task was to deal with the fallout of BSkyB’s controversial shares swoop at the end of 2006, which scuppered the then-NTL’s hopes of a merger with ITV.

The saga has yet to conclude, with BSkyB still pursuing an appeal against the Government’s ruling that it must sell down the 17.9 per cent stake – an issue that has hung over ITV and its shares, down more than 70 per cent in the past two years.

The group has suffered badly from a sharp decline in the advertising market. It announced 600 job cuts and a swingeing cost-cutting drive last month after reporting annual pre-tax losses of £2.73bn due to asset writedowns and the advertising woes.

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