ITV's Norman considers pay TV move

Monday, November 23 2009, 12:46 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

Incoming ITV chairman Archie Norman is reportedly evaluating plans to start charging viewers to access ITV's digital channels under a major new commercial strategy.

According to The Sunday Times, Norman will seriously consider a shift to a pay-TV model when he takes over from Michael Grade in early 2010.

The former Conservative MP further wants to introduce a shakeup in the ITV boardroom to ensure that the broadcaster does not endure another leadership crisis in the future, following the months of unrest after Grade announced his departure earlier in the year.

Along with leading the search for a suitable candidate to take on the vacant chief executive position, Norman will also reduce the size of the board going forward.

However, his most radical move would be to shift ITV's main digital channels - ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 - from free-to-air to subscription-only platforms.

The strategy would be squarely aimed at boosting ITV's struggling revenues, with the broadcaster recently reporting a £105m loss for the first half of 2009. ITV group revenues also fell 11% to £1.3 billion during the first three quarters of this year.

Norman is fully supportive of retaining ITV Productions for the positive impact that in-house produced shows such as Coronation Street and I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! can have on ITV's revenues and reputation.

However, he wants to develop greater international appeal of ITV-produced programming in order to further capitalise on recent positive growth in global rights deals.