A comment piece by former BBC director general Greg Dyke in The Times has caused ITV executive chairman Michael Grade to accuse the paper of “serious defamation”.
Dyke’s article, which appeared on Saturday 7 March, was headlined: “Grade’s ITV is in a classic lose-lose situation”.
While acknowledging the fall in ITV’s advertising revenue, Dyke said management could not escape the blame for the broadcaster’s current problems.
The Times did not reveal which of Dyke’s points specifically angered Grade, who joined ITV in 2006 after previously being chairman of the BBC.
But Press Gazette understands Grade feels it was incorrect and defamatory of Dyke to accuse him of “gleaning every bit of information he could about BBC One’s future schedule” before “jumping ship to ITV”.
He has demanded an apology – and may sue if he does not get one.
A member of The Times’ legal team told Press Gazette the paper had received a formal letter of complaint from Grade, accusing the paper of “serious defamation”.
The Times is investigating, and a response to Grade is expected by the end of the week.
The Times lawyer 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.”
Dyke’s article has not been removed from The Times website, but carries the note: “This article is the subject of a legal complaint.”
Grade launched the action jointly with ITV, but the broadcaster dclined to comment.