Letter: ITV hits back

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Andrew Neil's criticism of ITV (Media, 1 December) for successfully seeking to move News at Ten is curiously at odds with his libertarian credentials. As a free-marketer, it would have been more logical for him to support ITV's case for the same freedom and flexibility to schedule as is enjoyed by its competitors.

He alleges that "ITV can no longer be bothered to provide live Budget coverage". This year, we cleared the schedule for an uninterrupted one hour and forty minutes to carry an ITN live Budget special.

He compares ITV unfavourably with the US networks for not interrupting the schedule with breaking news. During the course of this year, ITV has carried more news flashes and extended bulletins than in the previous seven years put together.

His general assertion "that there is no longer any regular serious current affairs on ITV" falls into the same bracket for accuracy. It is a bit rich to dismiss our new one-hour 60 Minutes-style current affairs programme - the biggest current affairs commission on any channel for 30 years - before it has even hit the screen.