Change of heart? 

23 April 2009 tbs.pm/1045

Michael Grade to step down as ITV chief executive

This move comes as a modest surprise given the fact that Michael Grade was scheduled to stay on as chief executive for another year, but if he has done everything he can under the current circumstances then now is perhaps just as good a time as any to step back from the limelight.

Of course whether this is connected to that rumoured Mediaset takeover bid remains to be seen, since a new owner may wish to install their own senior management figures within ITV plc, but at the time of writing the ITV share price seems to think otherwise with those previous gains triggered by takeover talk being wiped out by this announcement.

For those fearful of Mediaset having anything whatsoever to do with ITV, bear in mind that some of RTL’s mainland European TV channels serve up some of the lowest denominator trash imaginable, and RTL currently owns Channel Five in the UK. (Make of that what you will.)

So if Mediaset does take over ITV, then it’s not necessarily the case that ITV’s standards – what’s left of them anyway – will drop off a cliff as a consequence, although any major change of this nature will no doubt reawaken the debates surrounding commercial broadcasting, regulation and public service content.