Simon Cowell quits as X Factor judge

ITV has confirmed Simon Cowell will not take his place on 'The X Factor' judging panel this year but will have a reduced role with "less" on-screen presence "later in the series".

Simon Cowell: ITV confirms X Factor judge has stepped down
Simon Cowell: ITV confirms X Factor judge has stepped down

The situation has arisen due to Cowell's commitments on the US version of 'The X Factor', which will debut across the Atlantic later this year, clashing with the broadcast schedule of the UK version.

An ITV spokesman said: "We have known for some time that Simon's on-screen presence would be less this year and that is something we are completely comfortable with.

"We are talking about ways in which he can have an on-screen presence later in the series, and he will continue to be an enormous presence backstage.

"Our focus remains on ensuring that 'The X Factor' continues to evolve, and we have been in constant discussions with Simon and the rest of the team about ways in which we can achieve that aim."

Although it has also yet to be confirmed, it is expected that fellow draw to the UK show and co-judge, Cheryl Cole, will also sit on the US panel of judges, putting her spot on the UK panel in jeopardy.

Suggestions for judge replacements on the UK show have ranged from rocker Ozzy Osbourne, whose wife Sharon was a former judge on the show, and Frankie Sandford from girl group The Saturdays.

Speculation has been rife that Cowell would pare back his involvement in the show, which is part of ITV1's primetime Saturday night schedule. He has already removed himself from his other primetime ITV1 hit show, 'Britain’s Got Talent', along with his co-host Piers Morgan.

They have been replaced on the panel by former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff and comedian Michael McIntyre, who make up the panel with actress Amanda Holden.

The first episode of the latest series of 'Britain's Got Talent', which was broadcast on Saturday night, brought in a peak audience of 11.6 million to ITV1, or a 46% share of total viewing.

The 90-minute show, broadcast from 8.20pm to 9.50pm, was watched by an average of 10.4 million – a 43% audience share.

Spots for 'The X Factor' final last year cost up to £250,000 for a 30-second ad, and earned ITV up to £25m from the finals alone.

The final eventually pulled in 17.7 million viewers, who witnessed former painter and decorator Matt Cardle win the title.

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