The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has hit out at BBC director-general Greg Dyke, following reports that he is planning a fourth episode of EastEnders.
The IPA claims the BBC is in danger of deserting its public service role in favour of a costly ratings battle.
The BBC has not ruled out another weekly edition of the popular soap, following press reports that it was planning a shake-up of its Saturday schedule. It is also believed to be considering moving its 9pm week-day news bulletin to 10pm.
Ray Kelly, chairman of Carat UK and the IPA’s media policy group, says: “We applaud Greg Dyke’s policy of putting power back in the hands of BBC programme makers, but if this is the new director-general’s interpretation of his public service obligation, we are sadly disappointed.”
Jim Marshall, chief executive of MediaVest and a key member of the IPA’s media policy group, says the IPA is within its rights to criticise BBC scheduling – and is not just speaking out because it is afraid of a ratings war.
He says: “The BBC should decide what its role is. If it is extending choice, then I am not sure going head on with ITV in a ratings battle serves that purpose. I don’t think it is in the national interest.”
He adds: “The BBC is thinking of transmitting an extra episode of EastEnders not because there is a lack of high-quality soap operas on television, but in the pursuit of ratings.”
The BBC was not available for comment when Marketing Week went to press.