ITV1 logo in front of ITV Studios, LondonReports suggest that former ASDA supermarket boss and MP Archie Norman is the front-runner to take over from Michael Grade as chairman of ITVplc; the company which owns the majority of the regional ITV Network franchises on channel 3.

In 1991 Norman took up the role of Chief Executive, later Chairman, of the ASDA Supermarket chain, which was failing as a brand and company. Despite coming close to bankruptcy Norman turned the fortunes of ASDA around enabling the sale of the chain in 1999 to the American company Walmart for a large profit. By the time he left the company it had become the UK’s second largest retailer.

With this track record, and a lack of interest in the ITV job, it seems Archie Norman is one of the few people seen as able to ride ITV out of its current storm safely. Time will tell of course whether his magic can work twice.

Current ITV Chairman Michael Grade – the nephew of ATV Network founder Lord Lew Grade – announced in April this year he was to leave the role at the end of 2009. Grade switched back to ITV, where he had worked in the 1970s and early 1980s as a programme controller at London Weekend Television, from the BBC in an unexpected move nearly four years ago.

His sudden departure from the corporation as Director General was welcomed by ITV staff who saw Grade as the saviour of the “failing network”. However that view has since changed. Michael hasn’t been able to bring the Grade-factor back to ITV which his Uncle Lew had previously provided via ATV Network.

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