LONDON — Carlton TV, attempting to boost the creative side of its operations, has tapped former ICM agent Michael Foster as managing director of content.
Carlton is the largest broadcaster in the ITV network, but its reputation as a program maker remains lackluster. Foster’s role will be to seek out creative opportunities for Carlton and attract a higher caliber of talent to work with the company.
Foster was one of the U.K.’s top agents before quitting ICM at the end of 1997 to become an exec with Ginger Media Group. He was ousted in a boardroom coup after only eight months, and has since operated as an indie producer.
Foster’s decision to join Carlton ends speculation that he would return to the agency business once his two-year non-compete agreement with ICM expired at the end of this year.
Foster will work closely with Waheed Alli, who recently became managing director of production at the parent group Carlton Communications after it acquired his indie shingle Planet 24.
This is all part of an attempt by Carlton chairman Michael Green and its new chief exec Steve Cain to inject an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit into the company.
Unlike its fellow ITV giant Granada, which has built its name as a creative powerhouse over the last 40 years, Carlton entered the broadcasting business only six years ago from a background in post-production technology, film processing and video duplication. It is still regarded as a hardware company that has yet to make a convincing transition into software.
Cain has pledged to double Carlton’s program output within the next three years. Although the company accounts for 34% of ITV’s advertising revenues, it supplies only 17% of its programming, about 350 hours a year.
The company has also been aggressive in its acquisition of libraries, such as the Rank and ITC catalogues. Foster’s brief is likely to include the creative exploitation of these assets.