Departure fuels speculation that exec forced out

LONDON — Janie Grace, head of children’s TV at commercial web ITV, has quit just 10 days before Nigel Pickard joins the network as head of programming.

Her departure has fuelled speculation that Grace was forced out after she criticized ITV shareholders Carlton and Granada for cutting her budget by 25% to £30 million ($48 million) in 2001. At a children’s TV conference last year she also admitted that CiTV could no longer compete with the BBC’s kids’ output, which Pickard is currently responsible for as controller of CBBC.

Grace, who replaced Pickard as head of children’s TV at ITV when he moved to the BBC, was expected to come under scrutiny when Pickard rejoins the commercial web. He built up a formidable reputation at CiTV, which regularly beat CBBC in the ratings with award-winning programs such as “SM:TV and “CD:U.K.”

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