ITC under fire from TV bosses over ITV deal

Commercial TV regulator the Independent Television Commission (ITC) has come under attack from TV bosses over its handling of the agreement with ITV to return the main nightly news to 10pm.

BBC director-general Greg Dyke, confirming BBC news at 9pm will move to 10pm on October 16, has accused the ITC and ITV of striking a compromise deal that will confuse viewers.

At the same time, Channel 4 commercial director Andy Barnes is understood to be angry with the ITC over its decision to increase advertising minutage for ITV, C4 and C5 without consultation.

Industry insiders say the increase is viewed as a sop to ITV for being forced into an embarrassing U-turn in returning the nightly news to the 10pm slot. Increasing peaktime minutage for the channels by two and a half minutes in peak time puts C4 at a relative disadvantage to ITV, as it achieves far fewer “impacts” – one viewing of an ad by a viewer of the defined target audience – than ITV for its top programmes.

The stations will have to shorten their programme times to make up for the extra minutes. It also means airtime prices are likely to fall, as it gives extra supply of advertising.

C4 refused to comment, but an ITC statement says: “C4 has raised a number of points with us about changes to advertising minutage. Our discussions are continuing.”

Morning broadcaster GMTV has also written to the ITC saying the move will cost it up to 4.5 per cent of its annual airtime sales of £70m a year.

C5 sales director Nick Milligan says he welcomes increased minutage, but sources believe the opposite is true.

The attacks come just weeks after new chief executive Patricia Hodgson took the helm at the regulator.

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