ITC slams ITV’s reliance on soaps

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) has criticised ITV for its extensive scheduling of soaps, which it says poses a potential “threat to diversity” on the ITV1 channel during peak time.

The criticism, which appears in the regulator’s annual report, comes on the back of a decision by ITV to introduce a fifth weekly instalment of Coronation Street in addition to its five weekly episodes of Emmerdale. The ITC also said that, apart from “strong” dramas, the weekday peak-time schedule was “rarely challenging”.

But TV buyers have hit back at the ITC. David Peters, broadcast planning director at Carat, the media agency for Coronation Street sponsor Cadbury, says the extra episode and new storylines have boosted audiences.

MindShare head of investment Nick Theakstone says: “It has done quite a lot for ITV1’s ratings. After all, it’s only one more episode.”

The ITC also said that ITV1’s performance in 2002 was patchy, and that it was concerned about the “unpredictable scheduling” of ITV News. However, it added that ITV1 had improved its daytime programming with the addition of new formats; exceeded its minimum requirement for current affairs programming; and introduced an “ambitious” series of new entertainment shows, such as Pop Idol.

Channel 4 received praise for its “challenging” documentary and factual programming, but was criticised for the “disappointing” lack of contemporary drama. Five was praised for improving the quality of its documentaries and reducing its reliance on crime and adult material.

  • The ITC report reveals that Pot Noodle’s campaign, using the strapline “Slag of all snacks” attracted more complaints than any other last year.

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