ITV has taken the rather brave step of appointing Sir Peter Bazalgette (below) as its new non-executive chairman, taking over from Archie Norman who oversaw the revival of the channel alongside CEO Adam Crozier.
Bazalgette is well qualified: he sits on the current ITV board and was both chairman and programme boss of Endemol, one of the world’s biggest producers. He has just stepped down as chair of the Arts Council. One of his forebears, Joseph Bazalgette, designed the London sewer system back in Victorian days.
But he’s one of those toffs the right wing press love to hate (even though they have plenty of them in their own ranks). Bazalgette devised and supported Big Brother through a hailstorm of tabloid criticism, arraigned by the tabs alongside Michael Grade, dubbed Britain’s ‘pornographer in chief’ in his spell as boss of Channel 4.
Bazalgette is not a hard-nosed businessman in the Norman mould (Norman sold Asda to Walmart) although he had plenty of experience of changes of ownership at Endemol. ITV is expected to the subject of a bid from one of the big American media or tech companies at some stage (although we’ve been saying that for years). He can expect another hammering from the tabs if British institution ITV is sold abroad.
CEO Crozier might not fancy this prospect either. He could follow Norman out of the door sooner than people expect.