ITV keeps eye on Ball as potential CEO

Ex-BSkyB boss well-respected in media circles

Tony Ball, the former topper of U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB, is being lined up as a possible new chief executive at troubled British web ITV.

Ball, who began his TV career as an engineer at ITV’s London-based Thames Television, has been approached by ITV minority shareholders Legal and General Investment Management, according to reports in the local media.

Ball chairs the advisory board of Germany’s Kabel Deutschland and his business acumen is highly rated in the U.K. following a four-year stint at BSkyB, when the satcaster doubled subscriber numbers as it reinvented itself as a digital operator.

ITV will this week appoint headhunters following executive chairman Michael Grade’s decision to step down.

Ball, who ankled BSkyB to make way for James Murdoch, was so well thought of by the paybox’s majority owner, News Corp., that he was reportedly paid around £10 million ($15 million) not to work for a rival U.K. broadcaster for three years after he left, a deal that expired in mid-2006.

Kabel Deutschland has been mooted as a possible investor in ITV, which, in the opinion of some of its stockholders, needs to attract funding as it struggles in a challenging advertising market.

Before running BSkyB, Ball was chief operating officer at Fox Sports Intl. in the U.S and CEO of Fox/Liberty Networks.