TV fest commitment being honoured, despite resignation

THE normally worthy McTaggart Lecture – the keynote speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival – promises to be a lively affair this year, with speaker, Charles Allen, intending to still appear, despite resigning as chief executive of ITV yesterday.

It’s been a tough ride for the Scot, though, in Monday’s MediaGuardian, journalist Steve Hewlett was concluding: “Ironically, the company does now have a strategy which, on paper at least, is hard to fault.”

But too little, too late for the City and the share price.

It will make an intriguing evening to hear how – in the words of the preview blurb in the festival programme – “he has steered ITV through the most turbulent and challenging period in its history”.

If professional obligation rather than enthusiasm drives most delegates to the MacTaggart, then schadenfreude might be the prevailing mood this year when Allen gets round to explaining “his plans to continue reinventing the network for the digital age”.

Says festival spokesperson, Lisa Baker: “Charles Allen will definitely be giving the McTaggart Lecture.”

At the same time, ITV chair, Sir Peter Burt, was saying of Allen: “Charles has done an excellent job over the past two years in integrating the business after the merger [between Carlton and Granada], in reducing costs and in reducing the burden of regulation on ITV and at the same time developing ITV’s successful family of digital channels.”

The MacTaggart is taking place at McEwan Hall, Edinburgh, a fortnight on Friday.