ITC slams ITV for narrow peaktime output

ITV’s factual output in peaktime is too preoccupied with crime, the emergency services and the paranormal, according to the Independent Television Commission’s annual report and accounts.

This lack of diversity within the peaktime schedule remains a problem, with entertainment including comedy continuing to decline. But the quality of ITV’s drama and its increase in sports coverage win special praise, together with an increase in the volume of documentaries, arts and children’s drama.

The report outlines ITV’s audience share decline among terrestrial broadcasters, from 38.9 per cent in 1996 to 37.3 per cent in 1997.

“Against this background, the ITC warmly welcomes the resolve expressed by the ITV Network Centre management team to address this issue, without sacrificing quality and diversity. But, it will be the second half of 1998 before their impact starts to be significantly visible to viewers,” says the report.

Channel 4 continued to serve diverse tastes and interests, says the ITC, but it notes the channel “lost some of its innovative drive in 1997” despite showing fresh and challenging work.

Channel 5’s first nine months were assessed, and it was praised for making a promising start, “although the quality and range of programming were affected by low budgets and the pressure to establish an audience”. The ITC called on its management to achieve more consistent quality and greater distinctiveness.

Torin Douglas, page 17

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