ITV CEO Adam Crozier is leaving the company, rather sooner than expected, which leaves the UK’s two biggest ad-funded commercial broadcasters with vacancies at the top. Channel 4’s David Abraham announced in March that he was standing down. Both enjoyed successful seven-year stints at the top (Crozier on left below with Abraham).
Crozier, 54, who began his career at Pedigree Petfoods and became media director and then joint CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, usually gets his timing right.
He led the Football Association from 2000 when it looked like England might win something (they didn’t) and went to Royal Mail in 2003 as it was being prepared for eventual privatisation. He took over from Michael Grade as boss of ITV in 2010, when it was floundering, but restored its fortunes with a slew of production companies buys, balancing its ad-funded side.
Crozier, who’s clearly a capable manager, says he wants to concentrate on “private and PLC Interests.” He’s amassed a fair old fortune at ITV (although his bonus was cut this year), helped by experienced chairman Archie Norman, as he was at Royal Mail by Alan Leighton. Former producer Sir Peter Bazalgette is now ITV chairman.
Whoever takes over will have some problems to face: ITV’s audience is threatened by the likes of Netflix and UK rivals such as UKTV (part owned by BBC Worldwide). TV advertising has held up well though despite the onrush of digital although it remains to be seen whether or not his many programme-making acquisitions pay off over the long term.
US firm Liberty Media, which owns Virgin Media and now Formula One, has a 9.9 per cent holding in ITV so may be inclined to make a move now Crozier is on his way. Tech companies Apple, Google and Amazon (the most likely) are constantly linked with the broadcaster too.
ITV, whose shares have slid recently, is valued at £8.5bn – pocket money for the likes of Apple. But there would be an almighty political row if Britain’s biggest terrestrial commercial broadcaster succumbed to a tax-dodging US behemoth.