ITV gets a mixed review from ITC

The Independent Television Commission has expressed renewed concern over the lack of innovation in scheduling and commissioning certain types of programmes on ITV.

In its second annual performance review of the 15 regional ITV companies, GMTV, Channel 4 and Teletext, the ITC praised ITV’s popular drama successes of the past year – such as Cracker – and improvements to its current affairs and factual programming.

But it highlighted a lack of innovation in other areas, and in the licensees’ approach to religious output.

The ITC also criticised the recent failure of some licensees to enforce the 9pm watershed adequately and breaches of the undue prominence guidelines relating to product placement.

Other points made by the ITC yesterday (Tuesday) include:

*Praise for GMTV after a marked improvement in the quality of its output. This follows a formal warning by the ITC in 1994.

* Channel 4 was commended for fulfilling its “special remit”, especially in documentaries and the arts. But narrative comedy was seen as a weaker area.

* Carlton, which was criticised last year for poor network programming, faired better in 1994, although the ITC said further improvements could be made.

* Granada was again criticised for breaches of the product placement code, although the ITC acknowledged the broadcaster has now “tightened its procedures”.

* LWT’s regional programming was deemed to have suffered because of the departure of more than half of its senior executives, after the takeover by Granada last year.

Broadcasters generally welcomed the ITC’s comments, following what some believed was “an unfair ticking off” when the ITC published its year-end report last year.

ITV chairman Leslie Hill welcomed ITC’s “emphasis on the enduring strength and popularity of ITV”.

GMTV said it was “delighted” with the ITC’s comments.

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