OPINION: Bankers have their place - but it surely isn't at ITV's top table

Before the week is out Sir Peter Burt, former chief executive of Bank of Scotland, could be the first chairman of ITV plc.

There is a chance that the other name on the shortlist, John Gardiner, chairman of Tesco, could make it. But the fact that Charles Allen, chief executive of ITV, is a non-executive director of the supermarket chain will surely count against Gardiner. The two know each other and have worked together. This link might upset the silent assassins in the City.

If Sir Peter gets the nod, it will be the purest kind of corporate appointment. A member of the High Constables and Guard of Honour of Holyrood House in Edinburgh, he appears to be completely untainted by any experience of the media. He has worked at the Bank of Scotland since 1975. Tesco is at least a little closer to the world of television and Gardiner has worked on the Lex column of the Financial Times.

There is no reason why a banker or the chairman of a supermarket chain cannot be a perfectly sensible choice to head a commercial broadcaster.

A large part of the ITV role will involve representing the company to the City, the government and regulators. The chairman does not have to be a fan of Coronation Street, although it would help to have heard of it.

It's just that there have been a few odd decisions lately. Staff at Channel 4 are still rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the arrival of Luke Johnson as their chairman. Johnson, an investor and restaurateur, would never have dreamed of applying for the job until he was approached. We will see whether Ofcom's first big appointment decision turns out to be a wise one.

For ITV, the question is whether Michael Green, for all his foibles, would have made a better chairman than either Sir Peter or Gardiner. Do experience and flair matter in the media? So far, the structure put together by Green and Allen seems to be doing rather well. Even without the benefit of a chairman, TV shares have risen rather nicely this month, on the back of hopes that the advertising recession is nearly over at last.

Surely there should be a trace of flair and creativity at the top of a media company, although as with ITV Digital one can sometimes have a touch too much. But would Sky exist today if there had been a banker in the chair?

Meanwhile Green remains a player and has no intention of going away to enjoy his millions. It is revealing that he has not only set up an office in Mayfair, but has also hired his former finance director at Carlton, Paul Murray. That amounts to the clearest evidence of serious intent.

The first significant moves could come later this year. The ultimate daydream would see Green taking over ITV on behalf of an even more serious player, such as Haim Saban, and installing himself as chairman. ITV's soaring share price and weakness of the dollar all but rule out such a soap opera ending. But Green could stage a comeback dramatic enough to make the silent assassins wonder whether they were right to prefer City grandees to media scrappers.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Virgin, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad
Powerade launches global World Cup campaign
Subway considers taking fast food to fast lane with F1 sponsorship
Burberry's flagship Shanghai store facade responds to weather changes
Ikea splurges 'grey' Belgium with colour
Grim outlook for Tesco boss Philip Clarke ahead of expected profits fall
Thomson to create first crowd-sourced wedding decided by Facebook fans
Currency wars meets origami in Alpari FX trading ad campaign
Amazon rumoured to launch 3D smartphone in September
Facebook to allow European users to store and transfer money on site, claims report
Unilever pilots multi-brand advertising with YouTube beauty channel
Lego, Coca-Cola, Net-a-Porter, Bitcoin and AOL: the digitally creative brands