Raymond Snoddy on media: ITV, prepare for Hurricane Michael

Michael Grade has had an early Christmas present from ITV. The 12.6m audience for The X Factor final suggests that, just occasionally, ITV can replicate one of its traditional old tricks - pull in a decent audience.

With Simon Cowell signing up for three more years - by coincidence the same length of contract enjoyed by Grade - one problem at least is already solved. That leaves about 99 to go.

When he takes his desk at his old 'home' in early January a few things will begin to happen quite rapidly - although not necessarily the ones people expect.

If history is any guide, Grade will launch an early charm offensive on ITV's leading advertisers, assuring them of his undivided attention and admiration. That is the part of the business that he can do something about in the short term by dispensing liberal doses of his legendary charm.

When he first went to Channel 4, Grade argued the case for the channel to the advertising community, made them feel good about themselves and helped to lift its ad revenue by about 10%.

Be prepared. You will have cigar smoke in your eyes and red socks in your face before 2007 is very old.

Then it will be time for some blood on the corporate carpet. With the exception of two knights of the realm, Sir George Russell - almost certainly responsible for landing ITV's big fish - and former Guardian Media Group stalwart Sir Bob Phillis, it's time to show the rest of the board the door.

New applicants should ideally know a bit about TV, with particular reference to rampant new technologies. It would also be good to have someone with genuine international media experience. Insularity has been an abiding sin of ITV for many years.

Would Greg Dyke be prepared to set aside enough of his ego to sit as a non-executive director on a Grade board, I wonder?

Once the board is sorted out, it will be time to tackle programmes. Expectations are high and instant magic is expected from Grade. At the very least, the headline writers presume that Simon Shaps will be sacked by the end of January and his seat filled by C4 director of programmes Kevin Lygo.

Instant drama may not be on the agenda. Grade must be painfully aware that little can be done about the programmes during the first 12 months. He has time to see whether the Shaps winter schedule cuts the mustard.

Moreover, ITV executives are just a bit prickly about the Lygo issue. Mention the name and the killer question bounces straight back: 'Name the new hits that Lygo has been responsible for at Channel 4.' Answers on a postcard to Michael Grade, please.

On the programme side, the Grade approach is much more likely to involve gradually getting to know the people he has before having a clear-out.

With clear-outs of personnel and programmes alike, there is always the danger that you will spend lots of money and end up in a worse position than you started.

The Grade magic - if there is such a phenomenon - is to give people the confidence to do and then provide the financial ammunition to enable it to happen.

As for the mess he left behind at his other old 'home', questions are still being asked about his particularly inelegant exit. The prime candidate for the leaking of the story remains the outgoing ITV chairman, Sir Peter Burt.

The real question is why Grade did not do a secret deal with ITV and stay at the BBC until the licence-fee negotiations were complete.

The answer, apart from the real danger of leaks, appears to be fears of a conflict of interest. After all, what would it have looked like had he secured only a poor licence-fee settlement for the BBC, as now looks very likely, and then skipped off to ITV?


- ITV1's Christmas Eve shows include Phillip Schofield's Night Before Christmas in which he and a host of celebrities surprise viewers by making their Christmas dreams come true. The forces serving in Iraq are treated to Christmas dinner prepared by Gary Rhodes and entertainment from opera star Katherine Jenkins.

- The channel's Christmas Day films are Alice in Wonderland, The Grinch and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

- Schofield returns with a celebration of The Best Ever Christmas Films at 3.10pm, with behind-the-scenes stories from Christmas classics such as It's a Wonderful Life.

- An hour-long Coronation Street Christmas Day special is at 8pm.

- Anneka Rice returns to our screens with a one-off Challenge Anneka special at 8pm on Boxing Day to help rebuild a tsunami-struck community in Sri Lanka.


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


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, 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