by RAY FLEMING

USUALLY people quit a sinking ship, rather than join it. However, Michael Grade has chosen to abandon the BBC, which is in good shape to ride the media waves, in favour of ITV which has been rudderless for a couple of years and is taking in losses at a worrying rate. But Mr Grade is more than capable of navigating his way through the TV channels; once director of programmes at London Weekend Television, then Controller of BBC1 and chief executive of Channel 4 before becoming chairman of the BBC in 2004, he is almost certainly the most widely experienced person at a senior level in British television.

The BBC will undoubtedly feel his loss but if ITV is to be restored to its former glory he is probably the best person to take on the task. Whereas the BBC has a strong management infrastructure, ITV has seemed to be floundering in recent years in the absence of a strong chairman. Although TV channels and other forms of visual communication seem to be multiplying by the week, there is still a need for a second effective all-purpose national channel to keep the BBC on its toes.

There are two likely reasons for Mr Grade's decision to move. The first is a pay package five or ten times what he gets at the BBC; the second, and probably the more important, is the chance to become a “hands-on” chief executive again, as well as chairman.