Michael Grade is to step down as chief executive of ITV by the end of 2009 to become non-executive chairman.

Mr Grade said he would leave the executive role when regulatory reviews into advertising contract rights and digital TV had been concluded, according to BBC Online.

The outcome of such reviews would lead to major strategic decisions for ITV, which he believes a new boss should make.

In a letter to employees, Mr Grade said he was confident that he would be handing a ‘revitalised ITV’ to his successor.

ITV hopes to appoint a new boss ‘as soon as practicable’.

Mr Grade left his role as chairman of the BBC in November 2006 to join ITV, which has been hit hard by an advertising slump, taking on both role of chief executive and chairman.

In February 2008, at the request of the board, Mr Grade agreed to remain as executive chairman until the end of 2010.

In March of this year, ITV announced that it would be axing 600 jobs after the channel reported a massive 41 per cent drop in profits.

It also announced that the programme budget would be slashed by £65m this year alone to save costs.

But Mr Grade now says that ITV is in a better position than it was just over a year ago.

“In February 2008… the new executive team had just been put in place, there was much uncertainty around the regulatory process and therefore continuity was paramount,” he said in his letter.

“Just over a year on, the team is firmly in place and performing so well.”

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