ITV taps Burt chairman

Appointment to add pressure on CEO Allen

LONDON — The newly merged ITV, Blighty’s dominant commercial broadcaster, has appointed its first chairman, former Bank of Scotland CEO Peter Burt.

The move comes after Carlton topper Michael Green was ousted last fall in the wake of a shareholder revolt determined to punish him for losing more than $2 billion on failed pay TV venture ITV Digital.

The appointment of Burt, who led the Bank of Scotland from 1996-2001, will increase the pressure on ITV CEO Charles Allen to deliver savings and avoid Green’s fate.

However, the new chairman paid tribute to what Allen has achieved since the merger of Granada and Carlton into the new ITV was finally made possible by the Communications Act.

Improved perf

He said: “ITV is having its best onscreen year-on-year performance for 10 years and there is a clear strategy in place, which is beginning to show results.

“I am looking forward to working with Charles Allen and the management team to take this strategy forward to realize ITV’s enormous potential.”

After being hit by the double whammy of ITV Digital’s failure and a prolonged advertising recession, the web has mounted a comeback in recent months.

Its healthy stock price and a weak dollar have made it increasingly unlikely that a U.S. media conglom, such as Viacom, will bid for ITV, allowed for the first time under the Communications Act, in the short term.

But the coming months will be crucial for Allen, who must prove that he can sustain ITV’s recovery.

With a weakened BBC, still minus a director general or chairman following the resignations of Greg Dyke and Gavyn Davies, and ITV dominant in the advertising market, Allen may prove the skeptics wrong.