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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Spotlight on Charles Allen
Charles Allen
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Charles Allen - the man who oversaw the creation of ITV plc - has stepped down from his post as the company's chief executive.

Renowned as an excellent business brain, the 49-year-old started out as an accountant at British Steel.

He rose through positions on the boards of a number of companies, including TM and Grand Metropolitan, until he became head of food service giant Compass Group.

He joined Granada in 1991 and was appointed to the board a year later.

In 1996 he became chief executive - and when, in 1997, Granada entered into a joint venture with Carlton - the other major ITV franchise-holder - to begin digital broadcasting, Mr Allen was selected to be a director for the new company.

Unfortunately, the resulting operation, On Digital, would end up as one of the biggest failures in British television history.

Meanwhile, in July 2000, Granada merged with Mr Allen's previous company Compass, and he became head of the short-lived new company, Granada Compass, which demerged less than a year later.

Mr Allen remained head of what is now Granada plc, overseeing the painful and protracted end of On Digital - now rebranded as ITV Digital.

However, the On Digital project had proved that a significant tie-up between Granada and Carlton could be achieved - and it was Mr Allen who steered the full merger between the two to form ITV plc in February 2004.

Revenue plummet

It was as a result of this that Mr Allen became chief executive of the new company, which put him in control of operations of all the company's channels.

Indeed, he has overseen the launch of much of the broadcaster's venture into multi-channel programming, most recently with ITV4 going live in November 2005 and ITV Play in March 2006.

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But it has been the problems surrounding the flagship channel, ITV1, that have ultimately seen him leave.

Despite his business brain, feeling in the media industry is that he has been unable to inject the channel with the required entertainment and fresh programming needed to hold viewers in the multi-channel world.

This has been reflected in the channel's ratings. Its share of viewers has declined from 28.5 percent in July 2000 to a record low of 16.3 percent last month.

And over the same period, advertising revenue has plummeted from 2bn in 2000 to predicted 1.3bn next year.

HAVE YOUR SAY
ITV's recovery will require radical restructuring of its schedule to boost viewing
Russell Long, Tonbridge, Kent

Meanwhile, July saw more bad news for ITV1. The return of reality show Love Island received only half the viewers of rival Big Brother on Channel 4, while new Saturday night show It's Now Or Never was dropped after a single broadcast.

And on the day of the World Cup final, ITV1's share of the audience fell to 9.1 percent - the lowest recorded figure for the channel.

Old ITV

Mr Allen's position as ITV head had looked shaky since March, when investors in the company acknowledged support for a takeover bid which, had it been successful, would have seen him removed.

But ITV's grim July seems to have finally finished him off.

Yet only six months ago, Allen was highly bullish - outlining a grand plan for a massive transformation in what he termed "Old ITV."

He was ambitious for ITV to grow - especially its new channels, which, he frequently pointed out, were driving an increase in profits, even if revenue was down.

But too often, disappointing audience figures for ITV1 meant he struggled to stamp his authority - despite being credited as the man who unified the dissolute franchises of the broadcaster to finally create ITV plc, a year before the broadcaster celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Some saw this as an occasion to lament what they saw as the decline, comparing epic dramas of previous years with a celebrity and reality-heavy line-up in 2005.

However, the end of Mr Allen's post at ITV is unlikely to be the last time he is in the public eye.

He has already been linked with a number of top jobs - including one overseeing the 2012 Olympics in London, following his role as chair of the highly successful Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.


SEE ALSO
The runners for the ITV top job
07 Aug 06 |  Business
ITV chief preparing to step down
02 Aug 06 |  Business
ITV swiftly axes primetime show
27 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Low ratings for ITV's Love Island
11 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
ITV cheerful as it hits its 50th
22 Sep 05 |  Entertainment

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