ITC treats TV mastheads with caution

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Trista Grant expressed bemusement at the ITC’s ruling that masthead programming was not to be permitted on Channels 3,4 and 5 (MW April 10).

She speculated about the possible reasons for this decision without touching on the Commission’s main concern to which we referred in our press release.

Masthead programming is as yet an untested formula in the UK and the Commission remains concerned about its effect on channels with public service obligations which, entail diversity in programming.

This diversity means that the airtime devoted to any particular topic is limited.

If all that time was taken by a masthead programme, working to the agenda of a particular publisher, then this would raise different issues of commercial agenda setting than if the programme was on a more specialist channel, where several publishers would have the opportunity to promote a relevant programme. For that reason, the Commission wants to proceed with caution.

This area remains one of controversy. The present position allows a sensible period for reflection and analysis before the Commission reviews this particular provision of the code in one year’s time, in the light of experience on all the other channels.

Paul Smee

Director of public affairs

ITC

London WC1

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