ITV companies are lobbying the Independent Television Commission to
relax its programming and scheduling commitments as they prepare for the
renewal of their licences at the start of 1999.
Crucial to ITV’s plans will be the rescheduling of News at Ten. Under
present ITV thinking, the main news bulletin will be moved to 6.30pm,
with a 15-minute update at 11pm. This would give ITV a clear run from
7pm to 11pm for peak-time programming.
Such a plan will require a change in some of the programming
requirements laid down in the ITV licences. The ITC is canvassing
opinion on the shape of the new licences and is willing to consider
reviewing their terms.
ITV bosses are arguing that a number of ’pseudo’ public service
programming requirements are hampering their ability to be competitive
in a multi-channel market.
The level of regional programming required of the individual ITV
broadcasters is coming under the spotlight as the newly invigorated
Network Centre grapples with plans for stronger schedules across the
The requirement to provide religious programming and stipulations
governing the format of programming for children are being questioned by
ITV because they do not allow the channel to schedule effectively
against rivals with fewer restrictions.
The revelations come two weeks after ITV admitted it was seeking changes
to the way its payments to the Treasury are calculated.
New proposals are understood to base payments on the amount of ad
revenue taken by the broadcasters, and ITV is lobbying for Sky to be
brought into the loop and pay tax on its revenue.