ITV's Michael Grade suing ex-BBC director

Claims libel in London Times column by Greg Dyke

LONDON -- Fleet Street is salivating at the prospect of two media moguls going head-to-head in court following reports that ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has issued a libel writ against former BBC director-general Greg Dyke.

Grade is suing Dyke over a column Dyke wrote for the London Times in early March headlined "Grade's ITV is in a classic lose-lose situation." The column included allegations about Grade's conduct when he suddenly quit his job as BBC chairman to run ITV.

Timing is all in such disputes. The Times column was published two days after ITV announced a £2.7 billion ($4 billion) loss, cuts to its program budget and revealed that another 600 staff would be pink-slipped.

Dyke and Grade have both held senior positions at both the BBC and ITV in television careers spanning decades.

After the column was published, Grade's lawyers wrote to The Times accusing it of "serious defamation" and demanded an apology. When that apology failed to materialize, Grade opted to file a writ in the London High Court.

After Grade's initial letter, the Times' lawyer issued a statement that said: "The Times has no wish to be involved in any sort of dispute with Michael Grade. There is no bad feeling, or any history we are aware of. We very much wish to resolve this without litigation -- but we will also defend our position, if we feel we should."