ITV has stepped up its propaganda battle with Channel 5 by rubbishing the progress of its retuning programme.
According to research conducted for ITV by Continental Research and RSL, Channel 5 will not have retuned enough homes to launch nationally in March as planned.
The research claims that out of a representative sample of 1,000 homes, only two per cent had been retuned. Over half had received literature from Channel 5 and three per cent had an appointment for a retuner to call.
At this rate, claims ITV, Channel 5 will not have retuned the required 90 per cent of homes until 1998. However, ITV concedes that the research reflects the channel’s initial 55m investment in the retuning programme.
Channel 5 announced last month that its was doubling its retuning budget to 110m.
Channel 5 says its has proof of retuning certificates for 1 million homes – almost ten per cent of the total – before getting its full strength workforce.
“ITV should worry about managing its own declining business and leave us to get on with managing our growing one,” says a Channel 5 spokeswoman.
However, newly-hired retuners are now being issued with employment contracts running up to 12 months, instead of 30 weeks as originally planned. A number have been told by their superiors that the channel is “seriously behind schedule” and they can expect to finish late next year.
Channel 5 denies that it has ever given fixed long-term contracts to any retuners.