ITV execs in the frame for C4's top job

TWO ITV executives were yesterday being hotly tipped to succeed Andy Duncan as chief executive of Channel 4 (C4) when he steps down later this year.<br /><br />Peter Fincham, ITV&rsquo;s director of television, and John Cresswell, the commercial broadcaster&rsquo;s chief operating officer, are both believed to be favourites for the high-profile role.<br /><br />C4&rsquo;s Duncan ended months of speculation yesterday when he said he would leave state-owned broadcaster before the end of the year, after five years at the helm. <br /><br />He blamed the publication of the government&rsquo;s Digital Britain &ndash; which failed to support his idea of plugging C4&rsquo;s expected &pound;150m a year funding gap with taxpayer cash &ndash; and the cancellation of Big Brother as &ldquo;natural moments&rdquo; for him to take stock.<br /><br />There has also been talk of tensions between Duncan and C4 chairman Luke Johnson &ndash; who will leave in January &ndash; and frustration at a lack of progress on a proposed partial merger of C4 and the BBC&rsquo;s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.<br /><br />&ldquo;My intention in announcing my decision now is to ensure a period of stable leadership, which will allow the board to proceed with recruiting my successor in parallel with Ofcom&rsquo;s appointment of a new chairman,&rdquo; said Duncan, who is understood to have received a &pound;585,000 pay-off.<br /><br />ITV&rsquo;s Fincham and Cresswell were both contenders for the role of ITV chief executive, which has recently been offered to former-BSkyB boss Tony Ball. Ball has been a vocal critic of current ITV management.<br /><br />C4&rsquo;s director of television and content, Kevin Lygo, and the ex-communications minister Lord Stephen Carter, author of the Digital Britain report, are also thought to be in the frame. <br /><br />But the appointment of the former Labour minister ahead of next year&rsquo;s general election could be risky for the state-run operation.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is more than obvious that the chemistry between Johnson and Duncan had broken down,&rdquo; said Claire Enders, chief executive of Enders Analysis. &ldquo;It would be good to avoid a similar situation, but how can you safeguard against that?&rdquo;