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Grade switches channel

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-11-28

Michael Grade

Michael Grade

BBC chairman Michael Grade is jumping channels to become the new executive chairman of ITV in the New Year. With over 30 years experience in TV, including being controller of BBC1 and chief executive of Channel 4, Grade is a major coup for the beleaguered TV network.

ITV currently without a chief executive will have 63-year-old Grade as its most senior boss. While in his new role, Grade will be responsible for day-to-day management of the broadcaster and will also look to find a chief executive to join him.

Grade's contract provides a base salary of £825,000 a year plus bonus.

Grade, who is also vice-president of the International Forum For Yiddish Culture started out as a sports journalist in the 1960s and has showbiz in his blood.

His father Leslie was a theatrical agent while his uncles were Lew Grade and Bernard Delfont. Lew Grade ran ATV, which had the ITV franchise for the Midlands all week, and London at weekends. Grade also owned The Prisoner and Thunderbirds maker ITC.

"It has been a tough career decision to leave the BBC but it was an opportunity I could not resist, given my family's history in the founding of ITV and my own background at London Weekend Television," he said.

"My first priority at ITV will be to support the team in accelerating the improvement in programming performance for our viewers and advertisers."