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28/08/2002

Morrison "to leave Granada by the end of the week"

Steve Morrison, chief executive of Granada, is reportedly to quit before the end of the week.
If so, he will end a 28-year career at Granada after agreeing severance terms with the chairman, Charles Allen.
Mr Morrison's departure from Granada has been one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, with journalists and insiders discussing his future on a regular basis. His position is perceived to have been under threat since February, when details of abandoned merger talks between Granada and ITV counterpart Carlton showed that there was no place for him in the enlarged group.
However, Granada has consistently stood by its chief executive. Unveiling a £169 million half-year loss in May, Mr Allen insisted speculation that Mr Morrison was leaving was misplaced. "There is a lot of nonsense being spun in the marketplace and there is no substance to Steve going," Mr Allen said.
Granada insiders have known for several months that Mr Morrison was leaving but said the company was keen he was not seen as a scapegoat for the collapse of ITV Digital.
They decided to wait until the conclusion of Carlton and Granada's court case with the Football League over a disputed broadcasting contract before agreeing the date of Mr Morrison's departure.
Mr Morrison was closely associated with both the management of ITV Digital and the £315 million contract it agreed with the Football League for live broadcasting rights, and by implication with the disastrous collapse of the digital platform.
Mr Allen is expected to take hands-on control, with a senior non-executive director being appointed to ease shareholder fears that one individual may wield too much influence over the company.
Mr Allen is also attempting to woo Dawn Airey, the chief executive of Channel 5, to run the ITV network. She is seen as the sort of inspirational executive needed to restore the ailing channel's confidence and fortunes after a period of audience decline and record losses. Ms Airey, however, is understood to have demanded total control, something almost unheard of within the labyrinthine management of ITV.
Mr Morrison was appointed chief executive of Granada Media Group in 1996. He went on to lead the group's flotation on the stock market after it demerged from Granada's catering business in 2000.
Granada Media have to date refused to comment on the media speculation.
(GB)
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