* Michael Bishop, Crispin Davis ruled out for chairman role
* COO Cresswell to leave ITV once new CEO found
* Cresswell to be interim CEO while search goes on
* ITV says searching for chairman with "all due speed"
* ITV shares up 2 percent, Goldman upgrades
(Adds analyst reaction, shares)
By Paul Hoskins and Paul Sandle
LONDON, Oct 12 ITV (ITV.L) said two contenders
to succeed Michael Grade as chairman of Britain's biggest
free-to-air commercial broadcaster had ruled themselves out,
dealing a fresh blow to its long search for new leadership.
ITV also said on Monday that chief operating officer John
Cresswell had to be interim chief executive but planned to leave
the company once a permanent CEO had been found.
ITV, facing the worst advertising downturn for decades, has
been searching for a new chief executive since May when Grade,
then executive chairman, announced he would step back from the
day-to-day running of the company.
Its search for a chairman, who will select the next chief
executive, began in September when Grade agreed to leave the
company altogether after it failed to secure former BSkyB
BSY.L boss Tony Ball as chief executive.
ITV, which had said as recently as Sept. 25 that the search
for a new chairman was "well advanced", said both former Channel
4 and BMI British Midland chairman Michael Bishop and former
Reed Elsevier chief Crispin Davis had ruled themselves out as
candidates for the position of chairman.
"The (nominations) committee has revised its shortlist
accordingly and is continuing its search with all due speed,"
ITV said in a statement.
Cresswell, who had been seen as a contender for the post of
of chief executive, would leave to "seek a fresh challenge", ITV
Analyst Patrick Yau at Canaccord Adams said Bishop ruling
himself out of the running was significant.
"With so many potential candidates stepping back from the
job or refusing the job, we wonder what the big issue is at the
heart of ITV," he said.
ITV's shares were 2 percent higher at 47.3 pence by 1131
GMT, as a Goldman Sachs upgrade to "neutral" from "sell"
outweighed the latest leadership setback at the "Coronation
Street" and "X Factor" broadcaster.
The bank said in a note that progress on the group's CEO and
Contract Rights Renewal had been as positive as hoped, but Q3/Q4
TV advertising data was modestly ahead of forecasts and ITV was
attractively valued against its European peers.
"We have modestly upgraded our 3Q/4Q advertising forecasts
and are 9 pct/29 pct ahead of Reuters consensus EPS in
2009/10E," they said in a review of the European broadcasting
(editing by John Stonestreet)