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Sunday, 20 September 2009
Tony Balls Mega Bushfire Sale at ITV starts Friday..Maybe
Tony Balls Mega Bushfire Sale at ITVplc starts Friday..Maybe
Tony Ball, neatly trousered a massive multi-million pound payoff when he left Sky in 2003, on the condition he did not work in broadcasting for two whole years. So has Mr Ball got through the cash already or is there another reason for not immediately taking on the ITV plc house of fun as their much needed CEO and weilder of the big knife? That was the question I posed on September 11th and Mr Ball is still 'playing hard to get' according to leaks negotiating a £30 million five year package plus perks for his services. Clearly a task for the late Ali Bongo who passed away recently (and laid in a basket weave coffin prompting one magician to comment: " Trust Ali to have the last laugh cremated in a sword basket!")
But back to our tale, Mr Ball still holding out for a mega pay in rather than out! It would of course be the ultimate slap in the face for his old employer Sky TV as they hold some 17 percent of ITVplc shares - rather they are stuck with them as they were purchased in the ITV plc good times at a price far higher than the 45p they are currently resting at! As to meeting targets duering this on-going recession Ball will need to have an all out war on spanish practices in his sprawing regional empire, unless he knows where this is happening it'll take him a couple of years to winkle it all out. As that is not an option, expect wholesale slaughter of sacred cows, container loads of P45's and those who survive put on short term but potentially lucrative contracts.
With all thaton the ITVplc plate, that is probably why the good news about product placement finally being allowed was greeted with little enthusiasm by the City. They have clearly already discounted the extra revenue this will bring against the need to invest in more quality programming without out the aid of reality shows, bankrupt chefs and withered estate agents.
So what is Tony Balls real purpose at ITV plc? The clue is in the coterie of shareholders supporting his campaign and application for the job. They include the highly creative "telly professionals" Legal and General and broadcasting stalwarts Fidelity???? Precisely, both these worthies see piles of cash locked into a declining business and seemingly Mr Ball has the magic key to set those locked up funds free. If only to bolster the balance sheet of shareholders by an early exit strategy. One can only speculate but expect an almighty fire sale and a wholsale shedding of senior personnel and a much pruned payroll. First to go will be the production arm ITV studios and as much of the redundant or underused studio space around the country.
A legacy estate from happier times when ITV was a series of self-contained television stations strongly identified with the regions: Yorshire, Tyne Tees, Grampian, London Weekend, Thames and so on. Expect Mr Ball to rapidly replace senior management with something approaching the Sky model.
Fully robotic studio operations. Young eager (cheap)industry newcomers and graduates straight out of media studies courses. The regional news operation already on the sick list will vanish as deals are done directly with other news suppliers, podcasters and bright freelances with digital transmission equipment.
Expect wholesale opposition from the Unions but Tony Ball can turn around and point to decimated advertising cash inflows.Unions will have to cut a deal and talent likewise will see the gravy train that was old style ITV has not only left town but looks increasing like the National Express East Coast model - destined to hit the buffers in eighteen months...I hope not, but perhaps Mr Ball we can have The Bill back at its normal early evening time together with the old cast - on reduced fees naturally?
Brillant 'Matt' Cartoon Courtesy The Daily Telegraph
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