Carlton, ITV's London broadcaster, has completed its first year on our screens. Criticism, such as the quotes that follow, has not been rare: 'Carlton has won its ratings by finding the lowest common denominator then halving it,' wrote Allison Pearson in the Independent on Sunday. 'Carlton's reputation as a provider of quality seems roughly on a par with the reputation of Ratner's as a provider of exquisitely crafted jewellery,' wrote James Saynor in the Guardian.
'It's easy to use words like 'tabloid' and 'frivolous', but look at our drama: Body and Soul was a very good series, Frank Stubbs Promotes is potentially a very long-running series in the Minder mould. People say we have gone downmarket, but what is Minder then? And since when has ITV drama not been populist?
'And actually, we aren't going downmarket. Body and Soul got a high percentage of ABC1 viewers, as did A Woman's Guide to Adultery; Hollywood Women had one of the highest percentages of ABC1 16-to-35-year- olds of any ITV factual series. These are not downmarket; that is the last thing our advertising department wants. Downmarket viewers switch on to ITV no matter what. The actual quest is for the upmarket viewers.
'People have been selective with their information, they have tried to make the facts fit a particular story. And they're also ignoring Carlton as a regional broadcaster: we have doubled the news output for London and the South-east and we have increased other regional programming by a third. We want people to look at the broad cross-section of what we are doing, to look at the whole picture.'
Paul Corley is Carlton's controller of factual programmes
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