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ITN boss John Hardie who helped return TV company to profitability is stepping down after nine years following drop in revenue

By Charlotte Tobitt

ITN chief executive John Hardie is to step down at the end of the year after nine years in charge of the news production company.

Hardie, whose remit covers ITV News, Channel 4 News and Channel 5 News, said now was “absolutely the right time” for someone else to take the reins.

Since 2009, Hardie has overseen what ITN described as a “highly-successful turnaround”, returning it to profitability and diversifying the business to achieve record revenues and profits.

But his departure comes after ITN posted a drop in revenue and profits last year, the first time profit has fallen in seven years.

Hardie said in a statement: “It has been my honour and privilege to lead this unique organisation for nearly a decade, working alongside some of the very best in the business.

“But the time has come for me to start the next chapter of my career and pursue some long-held ambitions and it is absolutely the right time for a new chief executive to take the reins.”

ITN group revenue fell 2 per cent to £126.4m in 2017, with operating profit decreasing by 8 per cent, excluding restructuring costs.

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The company blamed wider economic uncertainty and recession in the advertising markets for its performance.

Broadcast news revenues increased by 1 per cent in 2017 to £87.8m, which ITN said was driven mainly by inflationary increases.

All ITN news programmes increased their audience share year-on-year in 2017 for the first time in a decade, reaching a peak accumulated TV audience of 12.3m people.

In March it was revealed that ITN had the highest bonus pay gap of any UK news organisation – a mean gap of 77.2 per cent and a median gap of 50 per cent.

Hardie subsequently made a “public promise” to staff that he would “not receive a penny” in bonus pay unless he hit new gender and diversity targets.

He said today: “It will be my enduring pride to have played my part in shaping ITN into one of the most successful, highly-regarded television production companies in the UK, solidifying its position not only in world-class broadcast news but also in television production, sports, advertising and digital.

“Today’s ITN is stronger than it has ever been, with our creativity as well as our journalism recognised globally at the highest level, a growing international client base and a robust plan for the future.

“I look forward to watching the company continue to flourish into the next stage of its evolution.”

ITN said a search for Hardie’s successor will begin shortly.

ITN chairman Geert Linnebank said: “Over the past nine years, John has led an incredibly successful turnaround of ITN, transforming it into a thriving, profitable and diversified organisation with a global reputation for excellence.

“Under his skilful leadership, ITN has seen a period of unprecedented growth, reaching record levels of revenue and profits. He leaves the company in fantastic shape for the future with a strong blueprint for further expansion both in the UK and internationally.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank John for his passion, drive and commitment in getting ITN to where it is today. We are pleased he will be staying on until the end of the year to support a smooth transition and we wish him every success in his future endeavours.”

Hardie joined ITN from Disney in 2009. He was paid a salary of more than £700,000 in 2016 (including pension contributions).

Picture: ITN

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