Ball's still in the air at ITV

Is Tony Ball really holding out for £30m to run ITV? He may price himself out of the job if he is...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

What a palaver. Having finally secured someone willing to take on the challenging task of running ITV, it seems that the board’s chosen candidate is driving a very hard bargain for himself. According to some reports this morning, Tony Ball – the man who started the SkyTV bandwagon rolling back in the 90s who is now the hot tip to take over at beleaguered ITV – is asking for a £30m pay package for taking on the job.

ITV counters that this is too much, and that it is even prepared to go back to square one and start trawling through its corporate rolodex for another candidate if Ball doesn’t ease up on the dosh.

The sticking point appears to be less the £1m or so annual salary he would be expected to receive – itself pretty generous – more the five-year options and bonus package that would accompany it. Were Ball to succeed in more than doubling ITVs share price, he could receive a total of £30m over the full term of the contract – a vast sum which would be bound to draw flack from the corporate governance and pay restraint camps.

And while there’s no doubt that anyone who does succeed in turning ITV’s ailing fortunes around to that extent deserves a generous reward, we have to agree with the ITV top brass on this one. Agreeing to pay the new boss – however good he or she may be - £30m in the current climate would be pretty hard to justify. The fact that one of Ball’s first moves if he does get the gig will likely be to have a long hard look at the composition of his board isn’t going to make him any more popular there, either.

It’s all yet further aggro and embarrassment for ITV, which has already failed to bag its first choice candidate for the top job – Simon Fox of HMV - as we reported recently.

So what now? Well, if Ball can be persuaded to take a slightly less-Croesan £20m deal, then, says ITV, he’s still the man for them. If not, it may be back to the drawing board.

One name which has been mentioned as a possible compromise is Peter Fincham, currently ITV’s director of television. But is an internal candidate really what ITV needs at the moment? We’re not convinced…


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