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28/11/2006

Grade Makes Career Move To ITV As New Executive Chairman

In a surprise move Michael Grade has resigned as Chairman of the BBC with immediate effect to become Executive Chairman of ITV.
Grade will succeed ITV Chairman Sir Peter Burt, and his new role will entail taking on responsibility for the business of the company. John Creswell, the interim Chief Executive Officer, will become Chief Operating Officer and Finance Director.
This arrangement will remain in place for up to three years. Within that time, Grade and the Board expect to appoint a Chief Executive with Grade stepping back from day-to-day management, to become Non-Executive Chairman.
Under the provisions of the current Charter, the Vice-Chairman Anthony Salz becomes Acting Chairman of the BBC with immediate effect and Chitra Bharucha becomes Acting Chairman of the BBC Trust with immediate effect.
The defection has come as a shock to the broadcast industry as Grade's name was not featured in the list of candidates to succeed Charles Allen and also comes at a crucial stage in the BBC's discussion with the government in the future of the licence fee.
BBC Director-General Mark Thompson has released a statement praising Grade's ability: "I believe that over the past two and a half years he has been an excellent Chairman of the BBC.
"He played a critical role in charter renewal and helped design a system of governance that I am confident will stand the test of time.
"ITV needs a new leader and Michael's many strengths and long experience make him a strong candidate for the job. We're sorry to see him go but wish him the very best for the future."
Grade, who has lead the corporation through a contentious period reflected on his time at the BBC in an email circulated to all staff: "So much has been accomplished in the last two and a half years that I feel comfortable that I have achieved what I set out to achieve - namely restore the equilibrium of this great institution, to lead the process to appoint a new DG, to secure a new ten year Charter and to reform the governance of the Corporation.
"ITV is a competitor to the BBC, yes. But the BBC need ITV to be strong, both for competitive reasons and to maintain the balance of power within British public service broadcasting."
Grade added: "I leave with the feeling that I have done the best I can to secure the future of the institution about which I will always care so deeply, I leave with some sadness because of all the friends old and new who have been my support over the past two and a half years."
Grade, 63, who intends to step back to become Non-Executive of the ITV Board within three years, said of his appointment and future plans for ITV: "It is a great privilege to have been invited by Peter and the Board to become the Chairman and lead ITV.
"My first priority at ITV will be to support the team in accelerating the improvement in programming performance for our viewers and advertisers. This is the best way to enhance the value of the Company for our shareholders."
Sir Peter Burt commented on Grade's appointment: "Michael Grade's appointment will provide a strong and focused leadership at a critical time in ITV's history. The Company will benefit enormously from his unrivalled broadcasting experience. ITV's challenges, particularly on the programming and advertising side, are considerable and Michael's particular blend of skills will provide both the continuity of experience media management and the creative leadership which ITV needs to move forward rapidly."
Grade's career in UK television started in 1973 when he joined as an Executive at London Weekend Television. After three years in Hollywood he joined the BBC in 1984 as Controller of BBC ONE, and in 1986 became Director of Programmes, then Managing Director, Television (Designate).
In 1988 he was appointed Chief Executive of Channel 4 where he remained for nine years. After various roles between 1997 and 2004 with Camelot plc, SMG plc, First Leisure Corporation, The Television Corporation and other organisations, he was appointed as Chairman of the BBC on 17 May 2004. He is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society and Vice-President of BAFTA. He will continue as Non-Executive Chairman of Pinewood Shepperton and Ocado.
Grade will take up his new role from early 2007, the BBC Trust will assume its responsibilities with full effect from January 1 after the Board of Governors is dissolved at midnight on December 31.
(DS/SP)
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