The ITV companies were in emergency discussions this week about funds to
improve ITV’s programme line-up in the face of concern over falling
The talks - which are thought to involve ploughing extra millions of
pounds into its autumn schedule - came in the wake of figures released
earlier this month which showed ITV’s share of viewing had slumped to
its lowest for four years.
One ITV sales chief admitted that the issue of funding was ‘critical
right now’. He added: ‘Advertisers are baying for blood and we have to
address the issue as soon as possible.’
ITV is spending pounds 587 million on its network programmes this year,
but one broadcaster admitted this week: ‘This is clearly not enough -
either that or the money is not being spent as effectively as possible.’
ITV has already begun squaring up to advertiser worries by tweaking its
summer schedule. Movies have been introduced on Sunday evenings and
ITV’s Network Centre director, Marcus Plantin, is taking a close look at
ITV’s Saturday night performance, with the Chris Tarrant show, Man O’
Man, thought to be under threat.
ITV’s performance is expected to improve through June with its coverage
of the Euro ’96 football championships, and changes are now planned for
the rest of the June schedule.
ITV’s sales chiefs are anxious that the audience decline is rectified as
soon as possible as the 1997 airtime negotiations are due to kick off
early this year. Channel 5 will be talking to advertisers about taking
revenue from ITV.
‘It’s vital that we go into the 1997 talks with a strong proposition and
strong audiences and schedules,’ one ITV insider said. ‘We’re facing
more competition than ever before.’