ITV's Grade criticizes media coverage

Says business is going 'extremely well'

LONDON -- Outgoing ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has hit out at media coverage of the broadcaster's search for a new chief executive, accusing commentators of undermining a business that was doing "extremely well."

Speaking before an all-party committee of members of the House of Lords, Grade said the sense of crisis portrayed by the media was bewildering.

"We are certainly not short of advice from our colleagues in the Fourth Estate. I would say that coming into work each day as I do that I feel as though I am inhabiting a parallel universe ... the ITV business is going extremely well," Grade told the panel. Grade, who announced that he would step down in April as CEO and said last month that he would also quit as chairman by the year end, said it was "unfortunate" that ITV's attempts to hire a successor have been so relentlessly publicized.

"In any succession process you go through all kinds of ups and downs, people change their minds, we change our minds. This is no different to anybody's process. What is different is the round-by-round commentary in the media. The media is utterly self-obsessed and we get more ink than perhaps we should do."

ITV failed to agree terms with former BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball after months of negotiations, and has also seen former Reed Elsevier head Crispin Davies and former Channel 4 chairman Michael Bishop drop out of the race to be chairman.