Advertisers stir up a war with BBC

A television ratings war is set to break out after powerful advertisers urged the ITV network to measure itself only against the BBC. Paul McCann, Media Correspondent, explains the background to the battle for our control buttons.

ITV has been issued with a warning from advertising agencies to boost its falling ratings by taking on the BBC rather than trying to compete with Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the trade body for the advertising and media-buying industry, has asked ITV's new chief executive Richard Eyre to create a "benchmark" level of ITV viewing figures against the BBC.

When Mr Eyre joined ITV from Capital Radio in the autumn he asked advertisers to give him 100 days to devise a strategy for ITV's revival. He will be presenting that strategy later this month.

While he is believed to be planning an assault on BBC1 in particular, Mr Eyre is thought to be unwilling to set a specific target for taking viewers from the BBC because of the likelihood of the BBC raising its game in response.

Mr Eyre has prepared for taking on the BBC by stealing a number of ideas and senior broadcasters from the corporation, including Grant Mansfield, the man behind "real people" programme successes such as The Driving School and Airport. He has also hired David Baddiel and Frank Skinner to present a World Cup version of their popular Fantasy Football.

Advertisers are pressing for the assault on the BBC because ITV's share of viewing has fallen rapidly in the last five years to under 34 per cent as satellite and cable channels have stolen viewers. While ITV has been slipping the BBC has managed to hold onto its share of about 41 per cent when both BBC 1 and BBC 2 are added together.

The IPA is worried that ITV may try to bolster its audience share by taking viewers from Channel 4 and Channel 5 rather than the BBC. They are against this because it does nothing to increase the total number of viewers who see their adverts. Advertisers pay for airtime on ITV in a bizarre way that can mean they pay more per viewer as ratings fall, and they have seen their media costs rise well above the rate of inflation over the last three years.

Mr Eyre was appointed by ITV and given sweeping executive powers following criticism from advertisers that the network's federal system meant big players such as Carlton, Granada and United News & Media were competing more with each other than with external rivals.

As competition from new broadcasters has eaten into their audience share commercial broadcasters have become increasingly angry about what they see as the popularisation of the BBC's schedules. ITV and some of its advertisers have criticised the BBC for winning a renewal of its Charter by promising distinct programming not seen on other channels. Instead, they argue, the BBC is competing directly with commercial channels with mass-market soap operas, games shows and fly on the wall "real people" television programmes.

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress among those on 'master list' of massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Supply Teachers Required

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of Pay, Excellent CPD : Randstad Educati...

NQT and Experienced Primary Teachers Urgently required

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: NQT and Experienced Primary Teac...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD: Randstad Education Sou...

Upper KS2 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Upper KS2 Primary Teacher...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor