Liddiment stresses protecting integrity of national culture

CANNES — David Liddiment, program director at U.K. commercial net ITV who is credited with creating a huge appetite for “Millionaire” by daringly stripping the show daily, warned European format producers not to rest on their laurels.

“Americans are brilliant practitioners of television and they won’t sit back and let Europe dominate this market,” said Liddiment, giving Mipcom’s format keynote address Wednesday.

On the touchy subject of potential U.S. ownership of ITV, Liddiment said it was important to protect the integrity of the national culture. While he said ownership was less important than who manages ITV, he added that he would be “nervous of ownership that lacked cultural sensitivity.”

The exec reconfirmed his decision to leave the ailing net at the end of December. ITV bosses were hoping Liddiment, who has been in the job five years, would reverse his decision to retire until after the merger of the two main companies, Granada and Carlton.

Liddiment said he wanted to leave in an “elegant, friendly way” and there was no chance that ITV could persuade him to stay.

ITV’s worst nightmare is that Liddiment will go before his successor is in place, leaving two positions vacant at the top of the network. ITV has been without a CEO since Stuart Prebble resigned in May.

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