ITV is beefing up its drama output as part of an pounds 800 million
drive to cement its position as Britain’s most popular channel in the
In a glitzy presentation this week to more than 2,000 advertisers at the
London Palladium, the network revealed that it is planning to invest in
23 new dramas during 1997 as it prepares for increased competition from
Channel 5 and the cable and satellite sector.
The decision is being seen by many agency chiefs as an attempt by the
network to turn drama into a long-term ITV property.
Meanwhile, ITV is also turning its attention to comedy, another
traditional weak spot. Jack Dee will star in a new situation comedy, The
Grimleys, while John Gordon Sinclair will appear in a series called
Loved By You.
However, observers questioned ITV’s plans to revive its flagging
Saturday night schedule. Jerry Buhlmann, the managing director of BBJ
Media Services, said: ‘There is nothing in this to indicate it can
rescue Saturday night.
‘Satellite has the lead in terms of movies and sport. If Sky uses the
revenue generated in those areas to take on drama, where will that
ultimately leave ITV?’
Phil France, the managing director of Laser Sales, denied ITV was weak
in sport and movies: ‘We’ve tried to cherry-pick key sporting events,
such as Formula One. In addition, there’s a pounds 100 million package
for movies on ITV.’