C5 blasts ITV over claims of faltering retuning campaign

Channel 5 has hit back at ITV suggestions that it will fail to retune the minimum target of 9.4 million homes to meet its March 30 launch.

Telephone polling carried out for ITV by Continental Research suggests C5’s retuners made good progress until mid-December. But according to a source close to ITV, this has been followed by a disastrous Christmas period in which as few as 100,000 homes were added to the 4.6 million already retuned.

A C5 spokeswoman has hit back, saying it has already cleared 7 million homes and is on target. “We are retuning 500,000 homes a week and our test transmissions are flushing out a lot of people who need retuning.”

ITV executives are predicting that C5 will be forced to depend on special pleading to the Independent Television Commission to allow its launch to go ahead. Otherwise, they reckon, it will be forced into another embarrassing launch delay.

The ITC is demanding that 90 per cent of households, which may suffer interference from C5 transmissions, are visited by retuners before the channel’s launch.

“If you took a line graph of retuning progress until Christmas and continued it, it would have hit the launch date target by the middle of April – which may have been retrievable,” according to an ITV source. “But now, with the drop-off over Christmas, hitting that target for launch is not looking good.”

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