ITV wants Ball without £30m price tag

ITV still hopes hopes to secure a deal with Tony Ball to be the new chief executive, but has made it plain to the former BSkyB boss it wonít come up with the £30 million (E33m) demanded. Ball has been arguing for a five-year cash and shares bonus scheme which has some similarities with the packages created by private equity firms, that could net him up to £30m were he to succeed in more than doubling the value of the UK's largest commercial broadcaster.

The board of ITV, however, is unwilling to countenance such a mammoth potential payout and has been trying to rein in Ball's expectations closer to £20 million for a massive out-performance in the firm's shares over the next five years. It has already succeeded in persuading him to drop his demand that the share option portion of the package be back-dated to before his name was publicly attached to the job in May, in order for him to benefit from the subsequent price rise.

If a deal cannot be reached the firm will be forced to re-start its search for a chief executiveand some within ITV believe that their alternative choice - HMV boss Simon Fox - could be persuaded to jump ship at the sort of remuneration level they are proposing for Ball despite his protestations that he is "very happy" in his current post.