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
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,
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
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.’