Granada chief 'ought to keep his mouth shut' outgoing chairman of the BBC board of governors tells Media Society
Outgoing BBC chairman of the board of governors Sir Christopher Bland today added to the woes of Granada's chairman Charles Allen, by telling a Media Society lunch meeting that he 'ought to keep his mouth shut'

writes Dominic Timms.

Just days after Gerry Murphy, chief executive of Carlton Communications and Granada's key ITV partner, lambasted Allen for 'hysterical scaremongering,' Bland said the Granada chief should stop complaining to Tony Blair and concentrate on sorting out ITV's problems.

'Rather than trying to persuade the Government that he should be immune from take-overs ' I think he ought to drop that line of argument and get on and sort out the basic problems which are considerable, in his business,' Bland told a Media Society lunch.

However the recently appointed BT chairman said he didn't think the advertising downturn, which has devastated the share prices of both Carlton and Granada, would last indefinitely.

'I would say that the downturn in advertising revenue isn't terminal although it feels like at the moment. Those of use who have been around longer than the jolly-come-latelies in Granada and Carlton know that these things pass. They've never been through a recession but those of us who have know it is very painful at the time, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it at the time because most of your costs are fixed - and the caravan will move on, he said.

Bland also used the speech to advise Tony Blair that unless the appointment of his successor raised a political row then the government would have picked the wrong candidate.

'If you appoint a Chairman about whom there is no row, then you've appointed the wrong man or the wrong woman. Anybody worth the candle in this particular job will have some defects as well as some advantages. I plainly had none of the first but people like me don't come along more than once in a lifetime. But there are defects attached to any real people and this is a job that deserves and needs a real person. So there will be a row; there should be a row and again, you have to bite the bullet and make the best possible appointment.'

Bland's comments were widely understood to refer to current favourite for the position, vice-chairman Gavin Davies who has been criticised for his close links to the Labour party. Davies's wife Sue Nye, runs chancellor Gordon Brown's private office.

Baroness Hogg, a BBC governor and Tory peer, has been mooted as a possible number two to Davies, in a move which would help to deflect Conservative party sniping. Hogg was made a life peer four years ago for her services to John Major's administration.

Bland's Media Society Speech in full