McCall swaps one hot seat for another at ITV

It’s hard to argue with the appointment of Carolyn McCall who’s succeeding Adam Crozier as CEO of ITV.

For the past seven years McCall (below) has been running easyJet – where she’s done pretty well although easyJet is now suffering badly from the sinking pound (which sends up its fuel costs) and a slowdown in UK consumer spending – but she’s best known in media land for her spell as CEO of Guardian Media Group, which looked as though it was on the brink of finally escaping endless losses.

It wasn’t of course, laid waste by the encroaches of digital and editor in chief Alan Rusbridger’s big spending ways.

ITV chairman Peter Bazalgette says: “In a very impressive field of high calibre candidates, Carolyn stood out for her track record in media, experience of an international operation, clear strategic acumen and strong record of delivering value to shareholders.”

EasyJet Chairman John Barton says: “I speak for absolutely everyone at easyJet in saying we will be sorry to see Carolyn leave and that we wish her well in her exciting new role.”

That may not be true of easyJet founder and major shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou who has repeatedly upbraided McCall and the easyJet board for high spending on planes and new routes rather than returning money to shareholders. Stelios will doubtless prove a thorn in the side of whoever takes over from McCall.

Timing is all in such jobs and the departing Crozier has always had a gift for this. ITV’s revenue is falling post-Brexit (eight to nine per cent this year or thereabouts) and, on the face of it, the company has done as much as it can to smooth out advertising peaks and troughs by investing heavily – some would say too heavily – in buying independent producers. On the debit side it has failed to make itself a big digital player.

McCall knows all about the latter of course, having watched the Guardian fail to cash in on its big digital footprint.

So, in the near term at least, it may be out of the frying pan into the fire for the popular McCall. She may also have to deal with a bid from a tech company or other broadcaster interested in ITV’s bulging library of programme assets.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.