Crozier to head U.K.’s ITV

Exec turned round fortunes of Royal Mail

LONDON — ITV’s 10-month search for a new CEO is finally over.

The man chosen to transform the fortunes of the U.K.’s biggest private terrestrial web is Adam Crozier, the head of Blighty’s Royal Mail.

ITV chairman Archie Norman, who said Crozier had been in his sights since his own appointment in September, hailed the new topper as the “right man” to lead ITV’s change.

The appointment means ITV is being led by a chairman devoid of broadcasting experience — Norman is best known for running supermarket chain Asda — and a CEO whose only media experience came 10 years ago during his stint as head of advertising agency Saachi and Saachi.

When the question of experience was raised during a conference call, Norman replied: “There are those I know who think we should be looking for a star broadcaster. My assessment of ITV is that we have great TV broadcasting talent here, including Peter Fincham (director of television and online). What the business needs is someone to lead it on a program of transformational change. That means a change in culture and organization as well as business direction.”

ITV urgently needs to end its dependence on advertising-funded free-to-air broadcasting.

Crozier, a poised public performer, is famous for turning around the Royal Mail from an outfit that “lost £1 million a day to one that makes £1 million a day,” according to Norman.

But his policy of closing post offices across the U.K. and cutting jobs has annoyed workers and customers alike.

There are fears that Crozier will introduce a new round of cuts at the broadcaster, which ended 2009 on a high thanks to a record-breaking run of “The X Factor.”

Norman said further cuts were “not a top priority” and that there were areas of ITV that needed reinvestment. He added that one priority for Crozier, who succeeds executive chairman Michael Grade, is to build “a substantial international content business” at ITV.

Crozier will join ITV at an unspecified date later this year.

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