ITV’s recent successes in improving its programme line-up and
audience levels received an official stamp of approval this week as the
Independent Television Commission praised the channel’s revitalised
service in its annual performance review for 1998.
The ITC said that past criticisms of ITV’s limited range of programming
in peak time had been answered with more factual programming and less
reliance on drama.
Nevertheless, there was ’high praise’ for ITV’s drama successes, while
acquired material such as feature films were less successful in
The ITC also noted that improvements were still required in the current
affairs, comedy and arts genres. ITV’s promised improvement in
entertainment was only partly delivered and the Commission urged the
channel to make further progress.
ITV’s news coverage won plaudits, particularly the more serious agenda
for the early evening news and a greater willingness to extend bulletins
and provide news flashes for major events. However, the culture
secretary, Chris Smith, is said to be poised to launch an attack on ITV
for dumbing down its news coverage since moving News at Ten last
Responding to the ITC’s report, ITV’s chief executive, Richard Eyre,
said: ’The review is a very positive endorsement of the programme and
schedule strategy the ITV Network has been pursuing. We remain committed
to serving viewers with a diverse range of quality programmes.’
Channel 4 was also praised by the ITC for showing some improvement.
Drama and current affairs were singled out, while news was considered to
be ’serious, measured and high quality’. The ITC did call for more
multi-cultural programming in peak time and pointed out that the
requirements for adult education were not met in full.
For Channel 5’s first full year, the ITC saw some significant
The channel met most of its licence commitments, news
remained distinctive and educational programming improved. There was,
however, insufficient original drama for adults and a shortfall in
GMTV was deemed ’attractive and generally high quality’ by the
Commission, with a more adult-oriented and consistent approach to the