BBC slams ITV’s ‘dirty tricks’

The BBC has accused ITV of “dirty tricks” in Monday night’s historic ratings battle after the commercial broadcaster axed the 10pm ad break between Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and The Frank Skinner Show.

But ITV has hit back, pointing out that BBC started One Foot in the Grave three minutes early at 8.57pm to stop viewers switching to Millionaire. An ITV spokeswoman says this is a common tactic for commercial channels.

Monday was the first night of the new BBC1 schedule shifting its main nightly news to 10pm. ITV and BBC1 both screened top rating shows at 9pm, in an attempt to hold onto viewers for the contested slot.

At 9pm, ITV showed a one hour version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? against BBC1’s half hour One Foot in the Grave followed by The Royle Family.

ITV took the unusual step of axing the ad break between Millionaire and The Frank Skinner Show to stop audiences from switching over to watch the newly scheduled 10pm news on BBC1. It increased ad breaks in Millionaire from two to three, in line with new Independent Television Commission rules brokered in the deal with ITV to return a 10pm news programme next year to the commercial channel.

A BBC spokeswoman says: “This was a cynical ploy to stop viewers from finding the (BBC) news at 10pm. If they overrun by five minutes, viewers think they have missed the news headlines. ITV clearly planned it in advance.”

But an ITV spokeswoman says: “It was no more than scheduling tactics – advertisers expect us to use all the tactics we can. Our pledge to advertisers is to manage our junctions as effectively as possible.”

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here