Eyre promises ratings dialogue with industry

ITV this week admitted publicly that it had been underperforming on its audience delivery, but pledged to make a fresh start and become more accountable to the advertising community.

ITV this week admitted publicly that it had been underperforming on

its audience delivery, but pledged to make a fresh start and become more

accountable to the advertising community.



Launching the network’s 1998 programme line-up, ITV’s new chief

executive, Richard Eyre, told an audience of advertisers and media

buyers: ’I haven’t joined ITV to manage decline.’



He admitted ITV had not delivered audiences as well as it could but

insisted: ’There is fabulous potential in this great brand. We believe

it can do better and so do the shareholders.’ He promised to deliver a

detailed strategy presentation within 100 days.



Eyre made a public pledge to listen to advertisers, saying calls for a

boycott of selected ITV regions at the Marketing Forum (Campaign, last

week) had not been lost on ITV: ’We hear your cry to get the bloody

ratings up.’



At a meeting with the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers last

week, Eyre and his ITV colleagues promised to supply advertisers with

accountable targets and to ensure there was ’dialogue, dialogue,

dialogue’.



To emphasise his commitment to building audiences, Eyre confessed that

both he and ITV’s new director of programmes, David Liddiment, were

personally incentivised by audience delivery - amid rumours that the

pair are in line to receive pounds 100,000 for each percentage point

they add to audience share.



New programmes for next year include adaptations of Far From the Madding

Crowd and Wuthering Heights, Girls’ Night, a drama starring Julie

Walters and Brenda Blethyn, and comedy series including Babes in the

Wood, starring Samantha Janus, and Duck Patrol, starring Richard

Wilson.



ITV has taken on BBC 2’s Fantasy Football League and will have more than

300 hours of sporting action in 1998, including coverage of the FA Cup,

Formula One and the Five Nations Rugby.



One advertiser commented: ’Advertisers have been rubbished by ITV for

some time now for complaining about the fall in audiences. Now the

network is finally admitting there is a problem. It’s refreshing - but

it’s also a bit galling.’