Liddiment to program post at ITV

LONDON — The ITV network, Britain’s top-rated web, has appointed David Liddiment as its director of programs.

Liddiment will have the creative responsibility for spending ITV’s annual $1.2 billion program budget. He will work closely with ITV’s newly appointed chief executive Richard Eyre, who will manage the web’s business dealings.

Together they replace the outgoing network director Marcus Plantin, who combined both functions but is stepping down in the fall.

Liddiment faces the challenge of halting the recent erosion of ITV’s audience, and of striking a diplomatic balance between the production ambitions of the three major ITV companies — Carlton, Granada and United.

He himself was Granada’s candidate for the programming job, after Carlton nominated Eyre for the chief exec’s seat. Liddiment joins the ITV Network Center from Granada UK Broadcasting, where he has been managing director since last year.

Granada owns the regional ITV stations Granada TV and LWT and is now poised to take over Yorkshire Tyne Tees TV. It is also the biggest producer of network programming for ITV.

Liddiment rose to prominence as exec producer of the Granada soap “Coronation Street,” which is the U.K.’s top-rated show. He went on to become director of programs at Granada, before leaving the company to become the BBC’s head of entertainment, and then returning as deputy managing director of LWT.

Eyre commented, “David has an outstanding track record and enjoys widespread admiration as a clear thinker and passionate believer in ITV. He combines a lateral approach and an appetite for new ideas with a robust understanding of the issues within ITV.”

ITV remains the U.K.’s most-watched channel, but its lead has slipped in recent months under pressure from a resurgent BBC, a confident Channel 4 and the newly launched Channel 5, not to mention the growing reach of cable and satellite TV.

In the meantime, the consolidation of ownership has continued among the regional stations that make up the ITV network. What used to be 16 separate companies has now boiled down to three big players who are increasingly keen to impose their will on the Network Center.

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