Grade calls for a new deal for ITV

Michael Grade, executive chairman of ITV, has stressed that the “old regime” for the broadcaster is over and called for the broadcaster to be “left alone”. Grade made the comments in response to details surrounding Ofcom’s review of Public Service Broadcasting.

In a speech at the RTS Patron Breakfast today (8 October) he said there was no alternative but to “reconfigure the system” and agreed with Ofcom that the model is “broken”.

He pointed out that the old regime “was based on a deal” by which, in return for the monopoly on TV advertising, the 15 ITV licensees accepted a “high level” of prescriptive regulation that included public service objectives. But now the costs and benefits of being a PSB urgently have to be brought back into a stable equilibrium.

Grade said that the company wanted to continue to create UK-originated programming and sustain an impartial national and international news service.

But he added: “In future ITV must be treated as a business operating in a highly competitive market and not as an arm of social and industrial policy. Any new PSB settlement must be founded on a new deal – one that sets a clear balance between costs and benefits.”

The ITV Board says it wants to operate in a free market on fair terms with its competitors and customers and additionally wants all future regulatory requirements beyond a commitment to programme investment and news to reflect this.

Grade pointed out that ITV would prefer to stay a PSB but could go forward as a fully commercial company and still deliver value for customers, advertisers and shareholders.

He added that there must be a unified ITV brand and ITV must be able to manage the control of the brand wherever the ITV network schedule is available.

Ofcom’s consultation on its options for PSB requirements will end in December and the Secretary of State Andy Burnham will make decisions early next year.

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