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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Prebble: Taking the ITV helm
Stuart Prebble
Prebble will bring terrestrial and digital services closer
Ondigital chief executive Stuart Prebble already has one of the toughest jobs in television - and now he is adding chief executive of the ITV network to his portfolio.

Prebble has now been at the helm of Ondigital since July 1999 - a long time by his standards.

He once told the Guardian that he had never done any job for longer than two years, apart from producing World In Action.

Now he steps up to head the restructured ITV, leading its three core businesses - ITV Channels, ITV Digital and ITV.com.

Besides being one of the longest jobs he has done, Ondigital is clearly one of the toughest.

The digital television company, owned by Carlton Communications and the Granada Group has had a difficult time establishing itself in the fiercely competitive digital market.

BBC trainee

Nonetheless, this year Ondigital reached one million subscribers - although still some way behind BSkyB's figure of around 4.7m.

Stuart Prebble started in television as a graduate trainee at the BBC.

Working for BBC television news he began to realise that he wanted to work behind the camera rather than in front of it.

Dream

He moved to Granada Television in Manchester, first as a presenter for World in Action and then, fulfilling his ambition to get off-screen, as a producer.

He has said that working for the award-winning World in Action team was something he had dreamed about as a schoolboy.

He produced 25 episodes of the programme before being promoted to deputy editor in 1987, and editor in 1988.

After a period as head of Granada's regional programmes, he was appointed Granada's head of factual programmes in 1992.

Factual

In 1993 he moved to the newly formed ITV Network Centre as controller of network factual programmes.

Among the new series he introduced was Network First, which won the Royal Television Society Award for the best factual series in 1995.

At a time when current affairs television is much-criticised, Prebble claims to be an optimist and believes broadcasting is generally better than in the past.

He has said that today's television industry offers more opportunities to a wider range of people than before.

Prebble is also experienced at television's technological cutting edge.

His last post at Granada was as managing director of Channels and Interactive Media at Granada Media Group, after a time as chief executive of Granada Sky Broadcasting which launched a range of new cable and satellite channels.

His new position as chief executive of the ITV network makes him one of the most important figures in British television.

It may also offer both the terrestrial ITV network and Ondigital something of a new start in today's bruising television market.

Certainly, Carlton and Granada shareholders will be watching his progress with interest.

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See also:

23 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Ondigital 'faces relaunch'
17 Jan 01 | Business
Ondigital fights for growth
06 Apr 01 | New Media
Digital: Booming or doomed?
22 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
ITV's big break
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