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What to do with 'worthless' ITV?

ITV plc's share price hits a new low (at 64.5p), so is the only way up for new boss Peter Fincham?

ITV plc's share price hits a new low (at 64.5p), so is the only
published on UK Free TV

Today the share price of ITV plc, the company headed by the famous red-braces wearing Michael Grade, dropped to the lowest price so far, 64.5p.

BSkyB are kicking themselves, because they took an almost 20% share of ITV last year, which has been deemed invalid by the competition authtories. But Sky is going to loose 300,000,000 or so.

Things should be looking up Channel head, Simon Shaps has left, his winter "relaunch" of ITV1 being a failure. News at Ten, Moving Wallpaper, Echo Beach and The Palace being notable for their lack of impact.

Peter Fincham, who left the BBC because he approved a promotional film showing the head of state leaving a photo-shoot in a huff, when she was really entering the photo-shoot (in a huff), has joined. He brought you, among other things, The One show and the CGI hippos.

But ITV is a wreaking ground. Look at Dawn Airey, she was flying high and could do no wrong, and now unheard of.

Is Peter Fincham is being a fool? He is PERSONALLY associated with bent telly, and to join him to BENT and DEC and the home of ITV P(l)AY is foolish beyond measure.

What should he now do?

One option would be for ITV1 to just dump the historic regional network.

My heart says that ITV shouldn't get rid of the regional network, but at the end of the day the BBC does a much better job, is actually more regional and I would think it would make better sense to fund a ad-free CITV channel with the saving than provide regional news that, outside Manchester, no-one is watching.

ITV will not get rid of the regional structure because of the local advert targeting which only ITV1 can do (C4/five do it too, but their regions are massive by comparison).

So, I'm not advocating dumping regional news from ITV1 and GMTV, but I think the only long term future is to "break with the past" rather than try to pretend to people in Leeds and Manchester, or Bristol and Penance that they are in the same "regions".

If you have "super-regions" then you might as well put up a bit of public cash and get C4 or five to do them to "compete" with the BBC.

I advocated selling the ITV regional news slot to regional newspapers before, but that didn't seem to do it for ITV either.

So, sadly, probably best to say "Yes, Yes, Yes" to the end of CRR, ITV regions and a new name.

ITV has been in managed decline for, what is it now, 13 years?



Unless it has an M&S moment, which is starting to look unlikely, it is hard to see where else it's going to go.

Remember, for Mr Fincham, that ITV isn't loosing eyeballs and for admen (just) to other telly channels, but to Google.

It's a bit like the day after Michelangelo finished the Cysteine chapel, and someone goes in an pronounces "look, all these other churches, all they need is a slap of paint".

Sadly, it matters not that the chairs are call Shaps, Grade or Fincham, they are still on an "unsinkable" ITV ship heading for a big Googlely iceberg.

Things that might work for Fincham at ITV

1) Make a big public apology for ITV's biggest three rip-of mistakes: ITV Digital (for trying to demand set-top boxes back when Sky had given them away), ITV Sports Channel (for kicking the chair out from under every non-Premier football team), ITV Play (all of it) and the Premium Rate scandals.

2) Just dump the regional network. If you can't afford it ITV, just forget it. A superregional service is no service. Let Ofcom throw a hissy fit, but the are too spineless to take ITV1 off air in analogue homes, and ITV now owns multiplex A so they can't be taken off air in digital ones;

3) Change the brand name to something else. Anything else. so it is not associated with point (1) above.

4) Launch the new brand and schedules with the biggest prize money game anyone has ever seen, like Millionaire, but bigger. The PR should claim they are "betting the company".

5) Steal the biggest stars from other channels with handcuff deals. Even if the vehicles don't do that well, the stars won't be on other channels. If they do well, all the well for ITV.

Or

6) When introducing "challenging" new programmes, like No Echo Beach/Motionless Wallpaper, use an "interloper" brand like the BBC had with DEF II. If the programmes are liked they can "transfer" to ITV1 by withdrawing the sub-brand. If they don't work, then drop them and say that your sub-brand was experimental all along.

How much would this cost?

1) Saying sorry costs nothing. Maintaining your arrogance in the face of public hostility costs a fortune.

2) Saves something like 130m a year straight away.

3) 3m, based on the cost of Fincham's lower case three letters "one" and a few dizzy CGI hippos.

4) "Betting the company" to the public means having a show with a fantastic prizes (say, a real trip to space and 10m) that don't get one that often. Greed programmes are always popular with advertisers as it gets everyone in the right mood.

5) Might cost a lot, I admit.

6) tuppance ha'penny.

But my heart says that ITV shouldn't get rid of the regional network, but at the end of the day the BBC does a much better job, is actually more regional and I would think it would make better sense to fund a ad-free CITV channel with the saving than provide regional news that, outside Anglia, no-one is watching.

ITV will not get rid of the regional structure because of the local advert targeting which only ITV1 can do (C4/five do it too, but their regions are massive by comparison).

So, I'm not advocating dumping regional news from ITV1 and GMTV, but I think the only long term future is to "break with the past" rather than try to pretend to people in Leeds and Manchester, or Bristol and Penance that they are in the same "regions".

If you have "super-regions" then you might as well put up a bit of public cash and get C4 or five to do them to "compete" with the BBC.

I advocated selling the ITV regional news slot to regional newspapers before, but that didn't seem to do it for ITV either.

So, sadly, probably best to say "Yes, Yes, Yes" to the end of CRR, ITV regions and a new name.

In such a deal, it could only work if ITV1 moved down the EPG for the local channel to go on 3 or (103 sat and cable). It would only be fair.

I did this graph for Ofcom figures. The pie size is the region's population, the colour indicates the share of viewing the 18:30 programme has.

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