Where's ITV's Ball?
This afternoon I have a television mystery for you, entitled "what is going on at ITV over the appointment of its new chief executive?"
Here's the interesting fact: just under four weeks ago, the company sent a letter to Tony Ball, the former chief executive of BskyB, offering him the post of chief executive - subject of course to agreement being reached on the normal terms and conditions (including - ahem - pay).
Ball is keen to take the post.
He relishes the challenge of trying to restore ITV's profitability in the worst television advertising recession ever, and as digital technology transforms the company from a whale in a small pond - a de facto monopolist - into plankton in a vast ocean.
That said, the Competition Commission thinks ITV is still quite whale-like - in that the watchdog pronounced this morning that ITV must continue to be subject to price controls on what it can charge for advertising (which means that if Ball takes over, he'll have one arm tied behind his back).
Perhaps you think Ball is crackers to want to do it, since he doesn't need the money. But there you are: he thinks there's a business with decent returns lurking in there somewhere.
So on receipt of the offer letter, he instructed his lawyer to sort out the contract.
And although part of what he wanted was agreed pretty quickly, negotiations appear to have ground to a halt in the past week.
Which is not to say that there's been an impasse or disagreement, let alone a row. It's just that ITV hasn't been communicating with Ball, for days.
So is it that ITV has changed its mind and wants to rescind the offer to Ball?
That would probably be dangerous for its board, since Ball is backed by a number of big shareholders.
What's the problem?
Well I'm told that the board is worried about the quantum of wonga - or rather incentives - that Ball would like.
I'm sure these aren't small, since Ball is in a rare category of television executive: he has a record of generating profits rather than noise; he has an international reputation; and for the past few years he has worked in mega-bucks private equity.
So it's all a bit of a dilemma for ITV's board: the non-executives are understandably reluctant to pay significantly above - to use the ghastly cliché - the industry benchmark.
In the end there is surely just one question the board needs to answer? Whatever Ball is demanding, does it look reasonable in relation to potential returns for shareholders under his stewardship?
Or - which is what some think - is there something else that bothers the directors? Has the company got cold feet about Ball for another reason?
As I said at the outset, it's a bit of a mystery.