Charles Allen tunes back in

Charles Allen wisely kept his head down following his sacking as ITV chief exec last summer - hardly surprising given the amount of flak flying his way towards the end of his tenure. But the arch deal-maker hath returned, having swapped the telly hot-seat for the rather more temperate chair of Global radio, a new company that has agreed a £170m deal for Chrysalis' radio business, which includes the Heart stations. The move has got the sober world of the wireless all excited.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It's easy to see why. Allen's rise in TV took place against a backdrop similar to that which commercial radio offers right now: disparate channels that he could pull together under one unifying umbrella, all the while displaying a masterful ability play the numbers and keep the regulators onside. Radio is similarly in need of consolidation: listening figures are down, ad revenues in a spin, and already there's speculation that the fortunes of SMG, owner of Virgin Radio, and Capital Radio owner GCap will be bolstered by Allen's reappearance.

All of which is likely to be good news for investors in the short term at least. Listeners however have reason to be less enthusiastic at his return to the fray. For all his operational and dealmaking strengths, Allen's track record in programming is rather less impressive - he doesn't seem to have much truck with those stroppy creative types who clutter up the media world and get in the way of his relentless quest for cost-saving 'synergies'. Let us recall the state that ITV was in when Charles was booted out. It had gone from a genuine rival to the Beeb to a mess of desperate reality shows and soap-heavy schedules. And with listening figures dropping like lead under the weight of the internet challenge, will it really be that long before our airwaves are filled with the sound of Celebrity Love Island, the radio version?

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